LOS LUNAS – A New Mexico gun shop that sponsored a controversial coyote hunting contest last year plans to stage another competition aimed at prairie dogs.
Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas will host the hunt from Aug. 10 to 17 across the state.
Under the rules, a hunter who pays a $25 entry fee and shoots the “most tails” wins a Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22 rifle, according to KRQE-TV. The shop is giving participants T-shirts with images of the animal and the words, “You’re killing me smalls.”
The latest contest has angered various animal rights groups who say New Mexico is earning a bad reputation for bizarre hunting events.
“New Mexico deserves so much better than for our state to be known as the capital of killing contests,” said Laura Bonar, Animal Protection of New Mexico’s program director.
Raymond Watt of the group Prairie Dog Pals said he feels sorry for any hunter taking part in such a hunt. “I know a lot of hunters, and I know hunters respect wildlife, they respect the laws and they give animals a fighting chance,” Watt said.
Gunhawk Firearms sales manager Josh Waters said the event is about hunting rights.
“With the coyote hunt, it was taking up the hunting rights issue,” Waters said. “We got a lot of outpouring of support, and we want to show we are going to do it again. We’re going to be there for our hunters consistently.”
The store received angry emails and social media postings after holding the contest last year that gave New Mexico hunters two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as they could. The prize was the choice of a free shotgun or a pair of semi-automatic rifles. Hunters killed 39 coyotes in the contest.
The shop said prairie dogs are a problem for farmers and ranchers.
The issue of prairie dogs has long divided ranchers and animal rights groups in New Mexico and Colorado. Chaves County Commissioners decided this week to hold a hearing on Aug. 15 on an ordinance that would prohibit the importation and relocation of prairie dogs within the county.
Commissioners also declined a request by an Albuquerque group to capture the squirrel-like creatures and move them to Bureau of Land Management property.