Two men in Cornwall, Ont., are organizing a competition to kill coyotes in the area, but provincial officials worry the plan may do more harm than good for local farmers.
Brian and John Locke, co-owners of the Fence Depot and also operators of a feed and hunting supply store, said their customers asked them to organize the cull of coyotes to help protect livestock.
Participants in the contest, slated to begin in February, will pay $15 to register and can win prizes for the number and size of coyotes they shoot and kill.
Brian Locke said the wild canines are hurting the bottom line of local farmers.
"It's not just a problem that the guys want to go and shoot something, they are doing a service," said Locke.
Coyote population on the rise
Locke said while local townships often reimburse farmers for livestock killed by predators like coyotes, farmers need to be able to prove the animal was killed, and coyotes often take its prey where it cannot be easily found.
"They drag the stuff off and the farmers are left with nothing," he said.
Coyotes have been on a dramatic rise in the province for the past eight years.
But Scott Smithers, a Kemptville District Area biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, says indiscrimate killing of the predators will ultimately backfire.
"As you remove coyotes from the landscape, they actually will increase their birth rates," said Smithers.
The Locke brothers say, however, that there is over-whelming support for their cull.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Conservative MPP Bill Murdoch has been pushing for a $200 bounty on dead coyotes.
Other farmer groups are pushing the province to provide more money for protective measures like fencing and to ease regulations around trapping the animals.