On Saturday, the Memphis, Missouri, Future Farmers of America (FFA) are holding a raccoon hunt, and will be awarding prizes for the ‘biggest coon, the smallest coon, the most coons and the fastest skinner.’ With no limit on kills, it’s guaranteed to be a free-for-all on raccoon lives at the Scotland County Fairgrounds. Organizers are pitching this as a ‘fun event’, encouraging community involvement, and would love to see a grand turnout to hunt, shoot, kill and skin any raccoons they find. Teams must have one FFA member currently attending school, and at least one coonhound.
The hunt will start at 7:00 in the evening and run until midnight. For the nominal sum of $2.00 per person, and $3.00 per dog, you can bag as many raccoons as you can carry. All raccoons must be killed that night, brought back whole to headquarters, and skinned in front of a live audience, apparently including any children attending the event. Plaques will be awarded for both the biggest raccoon killed and the fastest skinner.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has recommendations for damage management assistance and population control for raccoons, and this type of ‘hunt’ is not one of them. In fact, the official measures for population control state “If no other control methods are effective, the problem animals may need to be removed from the area.” There is no evidence to suggest that this hunt is being held because of a drastic uptick in the raccoon population causing chaos among the farmers in Memphis, MO. Nor have there been any reports of raccoon attacks, or packs of rabid raccoons roaming the countryside. Since raccoons are one of the animals that may carry rabies, the chances of the animals killed on this hunt being eaten by the hunters run slim to none. Organizers state, ‘be safe, play fair and have fun!!’
According to the Wildlife Hotline, if a raccoon has been tearing up your garden, and you live in Jefferson County, MO, it is legal to sit outside in your lawn chair, wait for the raccoon, take aim and fire. However, similar to the “solution” found by the Florida Wildlife Commission when they allowed more than 300 bears to be killed recently in that state in one day, claiming ‘overpopulation’ and ‘resident safety concerns’, rampant slaughter will not fix the problem. According to the Hotline, it makes much more sense to put a fence around your garden and not shoot the raccoon.
But that would mean taking preventative steps. Apparently the FFA and FWC believe shooting and killing is much easier, and much more fun. And the world has seen how a humane preventative solution, having homeowners purchase bear-proof garbage cans, was pushed off the table in lieu of granting the Florida bear slaughter to take place. There is a free, public workshop set for Saturday in Naples, FL, to help Floridians learn to coexist with black bears and panthers. Ironically, it’s being led by the FWC, with participation by a number of wildlife conservation and protection associations. In addition, Saturday in Tallahassee, a ‘Requiem for the Bears’ is being held. For this year’s bears who met their death at the end of a gun, it’s too little, too late.
If you would like to express your concerns about this ‘coon hunt’, you can contact the Memphis FFA Advisor, Waltedda Blessing, at 660-465-8901, Ryan Bergeson, Scotland County R-1 Superintendant, at 660-465-8531, or the members of the Board of Education, since the FFA is part of their High School, thereby sanctioning this ‘fun’ event. Their phone number is also 660-465-8531. Raccoon hunting season opened November 15, 2015 and runs through January, 2016. If this event proves to be loads of ‘fun’ it can always be repeated until the season ends