By Betsy Klein, Sedona Resident
(January 7, 2019)
Recently I discovered a local 4H group is supporting and the beneficiary of an upcoming wildlife killing contest (WKC) called March Madness in Coconino County. This WKC awards prizes to participants for points based on the animals they kill including bobcats (3), coyotes (2) and foxes (1).
Growing up in rural NH where generations of my family owned and operated a farm, I was a young and proud member of 4H. I recall an experience rich in animal husbandry where we worked on projects entrenched in agriculture and science where I proudly showed my yearling calf at the annual fair.
What is not part of those memories is being taught to hunt through the senseless slaughter of wildlife for cash and prizes. Yes, we hunted, using fair chase principles and consuming the deer during the harsh months of winter as a sustainable food source.
The promotion for this WKC on social media states “ … continue to support the education of future sportsmen.” I understand passing along this tradition is vital to some however when did WKCs become hunting? To call these “contests” hunting is an insult to a recreation many Arizona residents enjoy. Hunting honors and respects the animal with a code of ethics. WKCs generally include the killing of any animal, without limits, for cash and prizes, using any means available. Once complete; generally, the carcasses are left to rot on our public lands.
Some, including AZGFD, say WKCs continue because they follow hunting regulations and therefore legal. Just because something is legal does that mean it’s ethical and moral? Moreover, if something isn’t ethical or moral, should it then be legal?
I am pretty sure the 4H I was a member of would have a lot to say about that.