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ALBUQUERQUE - New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says coyote killing contests are illegal and anyone caught organizing one or participating could face a misdemeanor.

The warning came Friday, after authorities learned through a social media post that a contest was planned Saturday in Curry County.

Balderas’ office and the State Land Office sent letters to the sheriff, requesting an investigation. State police and local prosecutors also were notified.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill outlawing the contests earlier this year.

Many ranchers and outfitters say the contests are a tool for managing packs of coyotes that threaten livestock.

Balderas said he supports ranchers’ rights to protect their livestock but said the law doesn’t allow for unlimited killing through contests for cash prizes.

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