Controversial prairie dog hunt begins

Posted at: 08/10/2013 6:15 PM
Updated at: 08/10/2013 6:29 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4 and Staff

Saturday marks the start of a 10-day statewide prairie dog hunt.

Organizers say it is a way to promote hunters’ rights, but it has local animal rights advocates enraged.

The shop holding the contest, Gunhawks Firearms, also held a coyote hunt contest in November.

They say its popularity, and the message it sent, are part of the reason they are holding this one.

It has animal rights advocates speaking out.

“The nature of these contests glorifies killing for its own sake,” Phil Carter of Animal Protection of New Mexico said. “That’s not sensible wildlife management policy; all it is a deep disrespect for life.”

But Chavez says prairie dogs are plentiful, and there are some restrictions on the contest.

Hunting is only allowed on land outside of city limits, and competitors must follow Game and Fish guidelines.

When the contest ends, the hunter who brings the most tails to the shop wins a Smith and Wesson 15/22 rifle.

Some say the event portrays New Mexico in a negative light, but Chavez says it is a way for gun owners to make a point.

“People are trying to take our guns away and hunting is an avenue for them to do it,” Chavez said.