Governor Kathy Hochul on Dec. 23, 2023 signed legislation she claims will protect wildlife in New York State. Legislation S.4099/A.2917 amends the environmental conservation law to make certain hunting contests, competitions, tournaments, and derbies that allow for the take of large numbers of wildlife unlawful. The legislation does not ban hunting or fishing but does protect New York’s rich biodiversity by prohibiting the wasteful taking of certain wildlife.
“Protecting wildlife is critical to fostering the integrity and resilience of our environment and our outdoor recreation economy,” Governor Hochul said.“This legislation establishes strong safeguards for our state’s precious wildlife species and protects our important fishing and hunting traditions.”
The new law makes it unlawful for an individual to organize, sponsor, conduct, promote or participate in any contest, competition, tournament or derby with the objective of taking or hunting wildlife for prizes, inducement or entertainment. Any wildlife killed during these activities become the property of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The law specifically helps prevent the taking of significant numbers of animals, often coyotes, crows, squirrels and rabbits, in contests held for prizes and entertainment rather than the targeted management of wildlife populations. The legislation excludes contests for hunting white-tailed deer, turkeys and bears, as well as fishing contests, which are carefully regulated by the state. By enacting this legislation, New York joins a national trend of states banning such contests.
State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “With the signing of this legislation, we are sending a clear message that the wanton waste of one of our state’s most treasured resources will not continue. The indiscriminate, inhumane killing of our shared wildlife in exchange for cash prizes is a waste of life, and I am proud that New York State is taking the lead in outlawing these contests. Thank you to the dozens of organizations and countless advocates who supported this legislation, and Governor Hochul for signing it into law.”
Assemblymember Deborah Glick said, “It is shocking that in New York, dozens of these barbarous, unsporting contests take place each year to kill the largest number of certain species of wildlife. These killing contests serve no conservation or scientifically backed ecological purpose and encourage senseless brutality. I applaud Governor Hochul for signing this legislation and ending this inhumane practice while protecting a farmer, rancher, or other New Yorkers’ right to safeguard companion animals and livestock from nuisance animals through DEC regulations. The wildlife of New York is a natural resource that should be protected, not brutally killed for cash.”
Humane Society of the United States New York State Director Brian Shapiro said, “With Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to environmental stewardship, New York is now the tenth state to end wasteful cash-for-wildlife competitions. We thank and appreciate Governor Hochul for upholding sound policies that protect and celebrate our state’s precious wildlife resources.”
Adirondack Council Executive Director Raul J. Aguirre said, “The Adirondack Council thanks and applauds Governor Hochul for signing legislation that will help rewild our Adirondack Park. The best available science tells us that contests awarding cash and prizes for the taking of wildlife, such as coyotes and other non-game species, is not good for the ecology of New York State. We support ethical and science-based hunting practices, as well as efforts to restore balance to our wildlands. The Adirondack Council is grateful to the bill’s sponsors and fellow partners for championing this legislation. Signing this prohibition into law is a step forward for wildlife management in the Adirondack Park and across the state.”
Pace Professor of Environmental Law and Policy, and the Clinic’s Chief Faculty Michelle Land said, “Students of Pace University’s Animal Advocacy Clinic commend Governor Hochul’s action to ban wildlife killing contests. With biodiversity declining at an alarming rate, we are pleased today signals the end to this indiscriminate destruction of wildlife that violates sound ecological principles. The new law will protect New York State’s native wildlife from being exploited for profit and entertainment.”
ASPCA, Eastern Division Senior Director of State Legislation Bill Ketzer said, “These indiscriminate killing sprees do nothing to manage wildlife populations. In fact, this brutal activity can create significant ecological problems, while promoting an egregious and unjust attitude toward our wildlife, which must be managed for the benefit of all New York residents and taxpayers. We thank Governor Hochul, Senator Kennedy and Assemblymember Glick for providing this thoughtful and balanced approach to wildlife protection.”
New York State Animal Protection Federation Executive Director Libby Post said, “With her signature, Governor Hochul is safeguarding wildlife in New York State. With this action, the Governor has shown herself to be a true champion for New York’s animals. Assemblymember Deborah Glick and State Senator Tim Kennedy, the bill’s sponsors, stood strong in the face of opposition and made sure one of our most precious natural resources—wildlife—is protected. A number of the Federation’s shelters help to rehabilitate wildlife. Banning wildlife killing contests means wildlife wantonly killed for cash and prizes won’t end up in a dumpster—which is exactly what happens.”