A Message from Senator Julian Cyr regarding Coyote Killing Contests

Dear Friends,

Thank you for engaging in such dedicated advocacy regarding the coyote hunting contests that have been taking place in the Town of Barnstable over the past two years. Your input, and the input of fellow advocates, has been powerful and helpful as we have worked to find a solution that will respect the rights, and preserve the safety, of people, pets, and wildlife.

Over the past few months, I have heard from constituents and advocates that have proposed solutions and requested legislative action to ban hunting contests like the one in Barnstable. Additionally, my staff and I have consulted with organizations such as the MSPCA with a track record of advancing animal rights bills into law. We reviewed these proposals closely with my legislative staff and colleagues, including Representative Sarah Peake and Representative Will Crocker.

Here’s our plan of action:

First, my office is working with Rep. Crocker to look into legislation to prohibit the practice of coyote hunting contests. I do want to be honest that statewide legislation will be difficult to advance. There is a long-standing precedent in the Legislature of deferring rule making on hunting and fishing to the Department of Fish and Game and their statutory enabled advisory boards. Moreover legislative process is not a speedy one; it could be a year before this bill receives a hearing and it will be difficult to get the bill released favorably from committee, while in the meantime these contests will continue.

Second, in tandem with legislation, Rep. Peake and I have sent the attached letter to the Department of Fish and Game, requesting a public hearing to be 

held in the Town of Barnstable by the state Fisheries and Wildlife Board.

Attached you’ll find that correspondence and a response from Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon agreeing to hold a meeting on Cape Cod in the coming months. I have heard from a number of constituents concerning bag limits, hunting season duration, the hours that hunting may take place, and concerns about the impact that this contest has on children and adults. This hearing will allow an open discussion about these issues and spark a conversation around what changes are needed at the regulatory level.

Additionally, I encourage you to communicate your concerns directly to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, if you haven’t already. The appropriate contact is Michael Huguenin at Assistant Director, Wildlife Research – you can reach him at michael.huguenin@mass.gov.

Third, regarding efforts on the local level, I encourage you to share your comments and concerns with town officials regarding your request for these contests to be banned in Barnstable. My understanding is that there is the possibility of local action on this matter, which may be the swiftest way for residents like you to end this practice.

I hope this three-pronged approach gives us multiple avenues to advance the issue and stop this practice at the statutory, regulatory, and local level. Please rely on Lauren in my office to stay abreast on our efforts; she will be in touch when a hearing of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board has been scheduled on Cape Cod.