With the Calgary Stampede less than a week away, animal rights activists have launched their first protest. This time they have a different target: Stampede sponsors.

Around a dozen protestors gathered at Tompkins Park, along 17th Avenue Southwest

The protesters say they are now targeting major corporations that sponsor the rodeo, including Bell Canada which had been sponsoring the steer wrestling event.

The group, called the "The Calgary Animal Rights Meetup Group" is urging Canadians to boycott Bell.

Jeremy Thomas from the group says, "Every year animals are hurt and killed and scared out of their minds for the sake of entertainment, not to mention the ones that get killed in the practice sessions."

A Calgary Stampede spokesperson says while Bell is still a sponsor of the rodeo, it no longer sponsors the steer-wrestling event.

The Stampede says it recently brought in changes to enhance animal safety, including new steer-wrestling rules that prohibit more dangerous take-downs.

There is also a new panel that oversees animal treatment at the Stampede this year.

The Stampede says despite what the activists say, the event does reflect Canadian values and says that is proven by the number of people who attend the rodeo every year, and the thousands more who watch it on television.

A Bell Canada spokesperson says "We support the Stampede and are confident in their management of all events."