LOS LUNAS, NM (KRQE) - The same gun shop that held a controversial coyote hunting contest now has a new animal in its sights.
Animal rights activists say the shop's new target is defenseless and harmless.
They are outraged because the gun shop is now going after prairie dogs.
While some say it is just a cruel publicity stunt, gun shop workers say they are standing up for hunting rights.
Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas sparked protests and headlines nationwide with its coyote killing contest in November.
The gun shop got hundreds of angry letters and phone calls, even death threats .
"It was pretty ugly stuff," said owner Mark Chavez. "They talked about our families and blowing the store up."
But they say they are not going to let that stop them.
"With the coyote hunt, it was taking up the hunting rights issue," said Josh Waters, Gunhawk Firearms sales manager. "After the coyote hunt, we got a lot of thanks for it. We got a lot of outpouring of support, and we want to show we are going to do it again. We're going to be there for our hunters consistently."
They are holding a prairie dog hunting contest from August 10-17.
The shop says they are a problem for farmers and ranchers.
They made up shirts for participants with pictures of prairie dogs and the phrase, "You're killing me smalls."
Animal rights groups say it is a poor excuse for publicity.
"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.
Members of Prairie Dog Pals agree.
"I feel sorry for the people that take part in this event because I don't think they are hunters," said Raymond Watt. "I know a lot of hunters, and I know hunters respect wildlife, they respect the laws and they give animals a fighting chance."
The gun shop owner says he won't be directing people where to hunt.
They are just expected to follow the law.
The State Land Office is reminding people not to trespass on state trust land.
Hunters killed 39 coyotes in that hunting contest in November.
Gunhawk says it plans to have another coyote contest later in the year.
With frigid temperatures, it's hard to imagine living without a heater these days. An Albuquerque woman claims that's exactly what her family has had to endure due to a pile of problems inside her apartment.
A District Court judge has ordered city leaders respond to a petition filed by an animal activist on the city's trap-neuter-return approach of managing feral cats.
Police responded to dozens of weather-related crashes in only a matter of hours Sunday.
A small plane crashed at about 8 a.m. Sunday morning on the Canyon Rim Trail near N.M. 502 and the entrance of Los Alamos.
Sunday night in Albuquerque and around the world people gathered for candlelight vigils to remember the loss of their children.
Department of Agriculture officials are warning customers to not get burned when buying firewood.