cgy-100424-dead-coyotes-fish-wildlife

Officials say the coyotes could have been killed in order to collect a $20 bounty in Saskatchewan. ((Alberta Fish and Wildlife))

Fish and Wildlife officials are investigating the discovery of dozens of coyote carcasses near Cypress Hills Provincial Park in southeastern Alberta.

Officials say 37 coyotes, shot dead with their paws cut off, were found dumped on a roadside near the park.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife spokesman Dave Ealey said it's possible a hunter was looking to cash in on a bounty offered by the Saskatchewan government.

"It's not illegal to shoot coyotes if they're a problem for your operation, and if somebody's given you permission to shoot coyotes on your agricultural land, that's legal," Ealey said.

"But of course with the observation that the paws have been cut off and the coyote carcasses just left — that doesn't seem quite standard procedure for somebody who's really trying to deal with a pest problem."

Until March 31, the Saskatchewan government was offering a temporary $20 bounty for every coyote killed if the paws were submitted as proof.

Ealey said he has never seen anything like this before.

"Certainly having them littered in this way — really, it's quite unpleasant for the public to see something like this [so] of course it would be a concern from a social aspect," he said.

"It's certainly not a wildlife concern to us in terms of impact on wildlife population, but it's not really an appropriate approach."

Ealey said Alberta officials will be in touch with their counterparts in Saskatchewan.

He said the person who dumped the coyote carcasses could be charged with littering.