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State Senate Expected to Reject Ban on Wildlife Killing Contests This Session

A proposal aiming to ban wildlife killing contests, which narrowly cleared the House last week, is not expected to advance through the Senate this session, according to its Senate sponsor.

The bill, known as House Bill 2900, seeks to prohibit contests offering cash, prizes, or incentives for the killing of certain fur-bearing animals. Much of the debate in the House revolved around contests that incentivize the killing of coyotes as a means of population control.

If passed, the legislation would classify organizing, sponsoring, or participating in such contests as a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000.

Senator Sara Feigenholtz, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, stated that the bill arrived too late in the session for it to pass before the chamber’s scheduled adjournment on Friday. Although introduced in the Senate on May 16, the bill had not yet been assigned to a substantive committee by Wednesday.

During the House debate on May 15, Representative Anna Moeller, the bill’s sponsor, emphasized the need to end what she described as the unethical and unsportsmanlike practice of mass killing of fur-bearing mammals for cash rewards. Moeller clarified that the bill does not aim to prohibit ethical hunting practices or the protection of property, pets, or children from harm.

Moeller addressed concerns about the lack of a clear definition of “prizes” in the bill, stating that it intends to prohibit contests offering anything of monetary value, such as firearms. However, opponents raised questions about the ambiguity surrounding what constitutes an inducement or prize, particularly regarding trophies or awards.

The proposal has garnered support from Project Coyote, a nonprofit organization based in California. According to the organization’s website, Project Coyote, along with the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter and The Rewilding Institute, urged the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to ban such contests through agency rulemaking. However, IDNR indicated that any changes would require legislative action to amend the Wildlife Code.

The bill passed the House with a 62-45 vote after over 40 minutes of debate. While no Republicans supported the measure, several Democrats, mainly from outside the Chicago area, opposed it.

Deputy Republican Leader Norine Hammond characterized the debate as reflecting regional differences, expressing concerns about the impact of the bill on livestock health and safety and agricultural crops.

If the bill does not pass before the legislature’s end-of-May adjournment, it could potentially be reconsidered during the fall veto session.

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