The Action Surface Rights Association says farmers and ranchers should fight back against unpaid debts and unreclaimed oil and gas wells by closing valves and cutting power to the sites.

The association represents about 200 landowners in southern Alberta.

Daryl Bennett of the Action Surface Rights Association says"They need to let these companies know that they've defaulted on the leases and there are consequences."

The Rural Municipalities Association recently revealed energy companies owe a total of $173 million in unpaid property taxes.

Bennet likens it to a landlord who changes the locks when a tenant doesn't pay their rent.

The group says farmers are suffering when crops are reduced because food safety regulations prevent farming near contaminated sites.

On Thursday, January 23, the Auditor General said its set to investigate how the province's orphan-well problem has become so big.

The province has been struggling to clean up 3,400 oil and gas wells left behind by bankrupt companies.

There are another 94,000 inactive wells that some worry could also become orphaned and leave taxpayers with the bill.