BOISE, Idaho —In response to a lawsuit from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management has decided to cancel a permit allowing an anti-wolf organization to conduct a “predator derby” on more than 3 million acres of public lands near Salmon, Idaho.
As lawyers for the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Project Coyote and Defenders of Wildlife were preparing to file a request to stop this year’s derby on BLM lands, the agency decided to withdraw its decision to allow “Idaho for Wildlife” to conduct a contest to kill the most wolves, coyotes, and other species over three days every year for five years, beginning Jan. 2, 2015.
“We’re so glad that the deadly derby has been canceled this year,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, who represents the Center, Western Watersheds Project and Project Coyote. “These sort of ruthless kill-fests have no place in this century. We intend to pursue every available remedy to stop these horrible contests.”
News of BLM’s decision came from an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing the BLM in the groups’ litigation, who conveyed the news just as attorneys for the groups were preparing to file a major brief to stop this year’s hunt.
“BLM’s first-ever approval of a wolf hunting derby on public lands undercuts wolf recovery efforts, so it’s good they cancelled this permit,” said Laird Lucas, director of litigation at Advocates for the West, which represents Defenders of Wildlife.
The hunt would have allowed up to 500 participants compete to kill the largest number of wolves, coyotes and other animals for cash and prizes. Contest organizers are hoping to expand their contest statewide.
“It’s hard to imagine a more objectionable event than an award-laden killing festival,” said Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Let's all hope that this is the beginning of the end of such activities.”
Wolves were removed from the endangered species list in 2011 following many years of recovery efforts in central and eastern Idaho, where public lands are supposed to provide core refugia in the face of aggressive hunting and trapping in Idaho.
“Killing wildlife for fun and prizes on public lands that belong to all Americans is not only reprehensible, it is also a violation of the Public Trust Doctrine and contravenes Idaho Fish and Game’s policy condemning killing contests as unethical and ecologically unsound,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “It is high time the BLM acknowledges that wildlife killing contests are not an acceptable ‘use’ of public lands.”