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Alberta coyote hunting contest draws complaints, concerns from groups

A coyote is seen near the course during the women's downhill race at Lake Louise, Alta., Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.

Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An upcoming coyote hunting tournament in central Alberta has drawn complaints and concerns from individuals and conservation groups, CTV Edmonton reports.

The tournament is set for Saturday in an area more than 100 kilometres west of Edmonton, in Lac Ste. Anne County.

For a $50 fee, two-person teams can compete, hunting coyotes in the area for prize money.

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Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada says her group has heard from many Albertans who are upset over this.

An Alberta government spokesman says this is the first time they have had any complaints about the tournament, but adds the event is legal.

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development classifies coyotes as an agricultural pest, there is no limit on hunting them, and hunters don't require a tag.

Participants in the event must be eligible to hunt in Alberta, with a valid hunting licence, including firearms training.

Duncan MacDonnell of Alberta Environment says coyote population is "stable and abundant."

"It's virtually impossible to count the number of coyote in this province, they are so numerous," MacDonnell said. "We know they are healthy."

A tournament organizer said this will be the fourth year the event has been held. In the first year, less than ten animals were killed, seven were killed in the second year, and thirteen were killed last year, the man said.

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Sampson said officials in other jurisdictions, such as California and Colorado, have banned such hunts, saying ways of dealing with animal populations are changing.

An expert on coyotes said farmers in Australia, for example, have found a number of different solutions.

"Guard dogs, electric fencing, hazing, donkeys and lights and other formers of chemical deterrents to teach coyotes," said Shelley Alexander with the University of Calgary.

Coyote Watch Canada has alerted members to the weekend event through social media, and has asked them to reach out to government officials to protest the event.

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