A gun store-sponsored competition in which hunters shoot and kill as many coyotes as they can has sparked outrage among activists in New Mexico who have called it a "heinous killing contest."
Animal Protection of New Mexico posted a petition on its website, rallying against the contest, which is sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms of Los Lunas.
"The organizers of the contest have consistently claimed that any criticism of this event is an infringement upon gun-ownership rights and hunting privileges," Animal Protection of New Mexico wrote on its website. "However, on our petition against the contest, over a third of signees have self-identified as gun owners, and a tenth are hunters or anglers."
Mark Chavez, owner of Gunhawk Firearms, told ABC affiliate KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M., he planned to collect the coyote pelts, send them to a taxidermist and then sell them for $50 each, with the money going to a scholarship fund for an agriculture student.
"[I'm] going to show the public this is not a waste," Chavez said. "I would like to raise about $2,500. I think that would be a nice scholarship for someone."
The team that shoots the most coyotes over the weekend will have their choice of two grand prizes from Gunhawk Firearms: a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles.
While some believe the animals can co-exist peacefully with humans, others say they are "predators."
"They survive in the wild by killing what they can, including livestock and pets," Rex Wilson, president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, told The Associated Press. "The people protesting this contest have obviously never seen a calf chewed up by a coyote, or watched a mama sheep try to revive a dead lamb."
And despite the protests, Chavez isn't backing down.
On Gunhawk Firearms' Facebook page today, there was a telling message:
"WE WILL STAND TALL!"