Conservationist Groups Sue To Stop Controversial Wolf Hunting Contest

Dec 23, 2013

This photo was taken in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley.
Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Update, 11:26 a.m.: The groups finished filing their suit Monday morning. You can read it here.

Original post: Conservationist groups upset with a planned wolf and coyote hunting contest in Salmon, Idaho this weekend say they’ll go to court to try and block the event from taking place.

Five groups plan to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service Monday morning in federal court in Pocatello. They say they agency should require the hunt’s organizers to apply for permits to kill wolves on federal lands, and that the government hasn’t performed a study to determine how the event will affect the environment.

At issue is the Saturday and Sunday “coyote and wolf derby” organized by the pro-hunting and fishing group Idaho for Wildlife. The group says it’s a youth-oriented event meant to manage predator populations. Cash prizes will be paid to teams that kill the largest wolf and the most coyotes. 

The event has outraged wildlife advocates all over the country and again is highlighting the divide between hunters and wolf advocates.

“Killing contests that perpetuate false stereotypes about key species like wolves and coyotes that play essential roles in healthy ecosystems have no place on public lands,” said Bethany Cotton, with WildEarth Guardians -  one of the groups suing to stop the event. Others include Project Coyote, Boulder-White Clouds Council, Animal Welfare Institute and Western Watersheds Project.

“The Forest Service is abdicating its responsibilities as steward of our public lands,” she says. “We are asking the agency to comply with the law: require a permit application and do the necessary environmental analysis, including providing a public comment process, to ensure our public lands and wildlife are protected.”

Steve Alder, the statewide director of Idaho for Wildlife, says organizers expected litigation from opponents. He says if a judge stops the event from taking place on federal land, the group will proceed elsewhere.

“I think we’ll still have the event no matter what,” Alder says. “There’s s plenty of state land and private land. We’re not going to stop.”

Alder says members of his organization and sponsors of the event have received death threats as news of the derby has spread.

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