A national wildlife group is slamming a beaver-hunting derby underway in Saskatchewan.

The competition offers cash prizes to hunters or trappers who kill the largest beaver or who come up with the most combined weight in beaver carcasses in 40 days. The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals says the event is inhumane and ecologically harmful.

“They’re putting a price on wildlife like this, where basically we’re just incentivizing people to go out and just shoot and kill as many beavers as they possibly can, just for a buck,” said Adrian Nelson, a spokesperson for the Vancouver-based wildlife assocation

“It’s really not sound management when it comes to dealing with wildlife populations, and it’s just, in a lot ways, disrespectful to a lot of the management policies that we’ve been working so hard to put into place over the years.”

The Saskatchewan Trappers Association — which sanctions the event — says the derby helps eliminate bad hunting practices and teaches others how to utilize the entire animal carcass and fur. Beavers, at this time of year, are often killed and left in the field to rot, according to the trappers group.

“They don’t really understand the whole idea of utilizing the entire animal and the fur resources,” Ken Gartner, vice-president of the STA, said. “The main thing is that we don’t want to see these animals left in the field of decay and rot without using the entire fur resource.”

Nelson says culls like the derby could lead to beaver extinction. Her group is calling on the Saskatchewan government to end the contest.

“Encouraging the killing of a keystone species — one that provides such valuable ecological services to people as well as the environment — flies in the face of any reasonable wildlife management policy, particularly when so many non-lethal mitigation strategies exist for conflict situations,” she said in a media release.

The competition began April 1 and runs until May 10. This year is the first year the derby is being held.