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Activists decry N.M. gun store’s prairie dog hunting contest

LOS LUNAS, N.M. — A New Mexico gun shop that sponsored a controversial coyote hunting contest last year plans to stage another competition aimed at prairie dogs.

Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas, N.M., will host the hunt from Aug. 10 to 17 across the state, KRQE-TV said Thursday.

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Under the rules, a hunter who pays a $25 entry fee and shoots the ‘‘most tails’’ wins a Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22 rifle. The shop gives participants T-shirts with images of the animal and the words, ‘‘You’re killing me smalls.’’

The latest contest has angered various animal rights groups who say New Mexico is earning a bad reputation for bizarre hunting events.

‘‘New Mexico deserves so much better than for our state to be known as the capital of killing contests,’’ said Laura Bonar, Animal Protection of New Mexico’s program director.

Gunhawk Firearms sales manager Josh Waters said the event is about hunting rights.

‘‘With the coyote hunt, it was taking up the hunting rights issue,’’ he said. ‘‘We got a lot of outpouring of support.’’

The store received angry e-mails and social media postings after holding the contest last year that gave New Mexico hunters two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as they could. The prize was the choice of a free shotgun or a pair of semi-automatic rifles.

The shop said prairie dogs are a problem for farmers .

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