An animal protection group has renewed calls to end killing contests in Alberta, like the one scheduled to take place this weekend.
“These inhumane contests glorify killing a species that is essential to ecosystems, and can actually create new, more significant conflicts between wildlife and people,” said Michael Howie of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.
Described as “reckless” and “inhumane” by critics, the 2015 contest prompted calls for the province to outlaw bounty hunts.
The organizer of this weekend’s coyote hunting contest said even death threats won’t stop him from hosting the tournament again this year.
The contest on Saturday offers a cash prize to the team of hunters that can kill the most coyotes in a single day.
“The science is clear,” Howie said in a statement issued Tuesday. “When coyotes are persecuted, their populations increase; when their social units or families are disrupted, conflict and depredation on livestock increases; and there is no argument — even if there is a healthy population size — to glorify the mass killing of sentient, ecologically significant animals.”
The organizer of the contest is a man named Paul, who asked that his last name not be used to protect his family from harassment. He said he has heard the critics and doesn’t agree with them.
“Coyotes are pests,” he said. “They’re legal to hunt any time of the year, with permission on farmers’ land.”
Howie said it is the Alberta government’s duty to manage land and wildlife habitat and regulate hunting and trapping.
“By allowing killing contests, Alberta’s leadership is showing a severe lack of stewardship,” Howie said, calling on Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and Premier Rachel Notley to demand an end to such “inhumane” contests immediately.
A spokesperson for the environment minister’s office said the government is not planning to change the rules around hunting, noting when coyote populations are high they can threaten livestock and move into urban areas.
But the province does have the authority to restrict animal harvests if it is deemed necessary, the spokesperson said.