By MARTIN GRIFFITH | Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A coyote hunting contest in Nevada on Saturday drew howls of protest from animal welfare advocates.

Activists branded the contest as unethical and say they will push for regulations to ban similar events in Nevada in the future.

“It shows a profound disrespect for non-human life,” Don Molde of Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management told KOLO-TV. “To simply kill an animal for the heck of it on a weekend, take its life with no second thought about it, to us is offensive.”

Organizers defended the contest as a way to have fun, adding the state is teeming with coyotes and the animals prey on livestock and pets.

“They kill dogs, cats, chicken. There's always an abundance of them,” organizer Greg Koehl told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Another organizer, Jason Schroeder, told The Associated Press on Saturday night that 32 two-person teams competed in the contest around the state on Saturday and only 12 coyotes were killed.

He said results were not immediately determined, and competitors gathered afterward at a Reno-area bar to celebrate.

Plans called for hunters to pay $30 each and for the prize money to go to the team that killed the most coyotes.

Molde said he notified the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about the contest and was told organizers needed a special recreation permit because a registration fee and prizes were involved.

BLM spokeswoman Chris Rose said he was unfamiliar about the issue and could not comment until Monday.

Schroeder said organizers contacted the Nevada Department of Wildlife and were told no permits were necessary.

The state wildlife agency says coyotes are an unprotected species in Nevada that can be hunted by both residents and non-residents without a license.