RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada wildlife commissioners have rejected a proposal to ban coyote hunting contests, despite opposition from wildlife advocates who branded the events as “killing for kicks.”

The Nevada Wildlife Commission voted 7-1 on Friday to deny a petition intended to end a practice that awards cash and other prizes to hunters who kill the most coyotes.

The action was taken after about 50 people spoke for and against the proposal during a three-plus-hour hearing, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Don Molde of Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management said the contests have no real impact in reducing coyote numbers as claimed by supporters.

“There's no better definition of the frivolous killing of an animal,” he said. “Coyote killing contests represent a wildlife version of a hate crime.”

But James Schmidt, a retired employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, said the contests have a significant impact in controlling populations of an animal that kills livestock and pets.

He suggested petition supporters had an ulterior motive. “This is an anti-hunting movement. Don't be fooled by what this is really about,” Schmidt said.

In Nevada and across the West, the coyote is classified as an unprotected species that can be hunted without a license or permit and can be shot on sight with no limit on the number that can be killed.

In coyote hunting contests, also known as “coyote call” events, coyotes are typically lured with devices that mimic the howls and yips of coyotes or the sounds of prey such as rabbits.

Prizes are awarded based on the number of kills. Some contests are huge, including the 2013 World Coyote Calling Championship in Elko, where participants killed more than 300 coyotes.

In December, California officials banned coyote hunting contests that have sparked a culture clash between wildlife advocates and ranchers who offer cash and other prizes to marksmen who killed the most animals.

It was the first ban of its kind in the nation, said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, which petitioned the state to end the popular contests that occurred almost every month in California or nearby states.

The vote by the California Fish and Game Commission allows hunters to shoot as many of the predators as they wish year-round but stops the awarding of prizes.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com