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Calgary elephant hunt auction sparks outrage from animal rights activists

Click to play video 'Animal activists plan protest outside elephant hunt auction in Calgary' Animal activists plan protest outside elephant hunt auction in Calgary
WATCH: Animal activists are outraged that an elephant hunt is being auctioned off in Calgary. While activists say trophy hunting is immoral, as Tracy Nagai reports, those behind the hunt believe it’s necessary to keep the elephant population in check.

Protesters are organizing a rally ahead of an elephant hunt auction set to take place in northeast Calgary on Saturday.

The annual fundraiser and auction is being organized by the Calgary chapter of Safari Club International [SCI Calgary].

“When hunting is not used as a tool for wildlife population management, things get out of wack,” David Little, the president of SCI Calgary said.

According to the auction’s website, the minimum bid for the two-week hunting trip to Botswana, Africa, is set at nearly $83,000.

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READ MORE: Elephant rides at African Lion Safari ‘disturb’ animal welfare advocates

The hunt is not sitting well with animal rights activists.

“The animals don’t have a chance on this planet when you have the wealthy and powerful coming together and auctioning off a life,” Shaun Hofer with Direct Action Everywhere said.

“There is no way to justify it.”

The hunting ban on elephants was lifted in Botswana last year after a decision from that country’s ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism.

READ MORE: Protest at African Hunting Expo in Calgary to stop trophy hunting

The ministry’s reasons included a large elephant population that was leading to more human-elephant conflict.

“Every jurisdiction in Canada uses hunting as a tool for wildlife population management,” Little said.

“It’s a viable one and Botswana is going to re-deploy it.”

Iris Ho, a wildlife specialist with Humane Society International, has a different take on the ministry’s decision.

“Last month there were five elephants in Botswana that were trophy hunted and the local communities were outraged.”

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“Killing the elephants actually increases human-elephant conflict,” Ho said. “The remainder of the elephants become more aggressive towards humans.”

The Calgary Humane Society said Thursday it was “firmly opposed to the use of animals in any form of entertainment that puts the animal at risk of suffering stress, pain, injury or death, which includes trophy hunting.”

“The organization also supports a ban on the importation of any animal parts to be used as trophies,” the society said.

“We sincerely hope the Safari Club will reconsider its auction item offerings to exclude any item where an animal is harmed, and the Westin Calgary Airport Hotel will re-evaluate hosting an event where such activities are promoted.”

The auction caps off a two-day hunting expo at the Westin Airport Convention Hotel.

A protest is scheduled to take place outside the hotel on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Global News’ repeated requests for comment from the Westin Airport Convention Hotel and Marriot Hotels, which is the parent company of the Westin chain of hotels, were not returned.