By John Miller
A federal judge Friday allowed a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby to proceed on public land in Idaho this weekend, ruling its organizers aren’t required to get a special permit from the U.S. Forest Service.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale issued the ruling in Boise hours after a morning hearing.
WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups had sought to stop the derby, arguing the Forest Service was ignoring its own rules that require permits for competitive events.
The agency, meanwhile, countered no permit was needed, concluding while hunting would take place in the forest on Saturday and Sunday, the competitive portion of the event — where judges determine the $1,000 prize winner for the biggest wolf killed — would take place on private land.
Dale decided derby promoters were encouraging use of the forest for a lawful activity.
“The derby hunt is not like a footrace or ski race, where organizers would require the use of a loop or track for all participants to race upon,” she wrote, of events that might require such permits. “Rather, hunters will be dispersed throughout the forest, hunting at their own pace and in their own preferred territory, and not in a prescribed location within a designated perimeter.”
Steve Alder, an organizer of Idaho’s derby, said dozens of people had already arrived in Salmon, Idaho, to participate. He was elated following the decision.
“We won,” Alder said. “You’ve got a lot of people who have driven from far distances to Salmon, today. A lot of motels have a lot of occupants; a lot of money has been expended for this event. It’s good for Salmon, but I don’t want to send them packing home.”
Every year, predator derbies are staged across the West and much of the rest of the country, where hunters compete to bag the most coyote, fox and other animals. More....