Coyote hunting contest returns to Alberta

The organizer of a coyote hunting contest says even death threats won’t stop him from hosting the tournament again this year.

'Guys are out shooting coyotes, no matter what, ' says contest organizer

A pack of coyotes spotted tussling on an Edmonton street were likely fighting over some garbage, says a University of Alberta biologist. (Edmonton Urban Coyote Project )

The organizer of a coyote hunting contest says even death threats won't stop him from hosting the tournament again this year.

Saturday's contest, which offers a cash prize to the team of hunters that can kill the most coyotes in a single day, has provoked controversy with environmentalists.

Described as "reckless" and "inhumane" by some critics, the 2015 contest prompted renewed calls for the province to outlaw bounty hunts, and tighten restrictions on coyote hunting.

Paul, who asked that his last name not be used to protect his family from harassment, has been running the contest for five years. 

Intimidating comments, suggesting that  he "should be shot" for supporting the contest, have failed to dissuade him.

"I have no problem hosting it again, none whatsoever," he said during a Monday morning interview on CBC's Edmonton AM.

"Guys are out shooting coyotes, no matter what. This is just some friendly competition between teams."

Despite the outcry from conservation groups, Paul said a record 38 teams took part in the contest last year.

"Coyotes are pests. They're legal to hunt any time, any time of the year, with permission, on farmers' land. We're playing by the rules."

For a $50 entry fee, hunters across the province are encouraged to participate in the tournament, and are allowed to kill coyotes anywhere where private landowners have granted permission.

The money collected from entry fees is paid out to the first-, second- and third-place finishers, based on the number of coyotes each team brings in.

There are also side contests for heaviest coyote, lightest coyote, mangiest coyote and a wild card.

Hunters will take their hauls to a checkpoint to verify the kills, and ensure they've followed all contest regulations. Teams also must use "mouth blocks" — dated pieces of wood strapped into the dead coyotes' mouths — to verify their kills.

According to Paul, teams normally bring in anywhere from one to three coyotes, but one team came in with 10 last year.

The winners will be announced shortly after sunset on Saturday evening.