Update 2:11 p.m.:
A federal judge allowed a wolf derby to proceed on public land in Idaho, 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 Friday, 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 Forest Service, meanwhile, countered no permit was needed.
Its officials concluded while hunting would take place in the forest, the competitive portion of the event — where judges would determine contest winners for the biggest wolf — would take place on private land.
Dale decided derby promoters were encouraging use of the forest for a lawful activity.
Update 1:18 p.m.:
Foes of an Idaho wolf and coyote derby planned for this weekend raised the specter of hundreds of hunters descending on National Forest lands, threatening other users with stray bullets and potentially killing so many animals they disrupt the ecosystem.
An attorney for WildEarth Guardians on Friday told a federal judge in Boise she should halt the event because the U.S. Forest Service shirked its own rules by not requiring derby organizers to get a special permit normally required for commercial events.
The U.S. Forest Service's lawyer countered that hunters would be coming to Salmon, Idaho, this weekend — regardless of whether there was a hunting contest.
He told Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale that opponents couldn't demonstrate they'd be irreparably harmed.
Dale promised a decision before the derby's start Saturday.
The fate of a disputed coyote and wolf derby planned for this weekend in central Idaho will be debated Friday in federal court.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale scheduled a telephone hearing in an environmental group's lawsuit for 9:30 a.m.
WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups contend the U.S. Forest Service ignored federal laws by allowing the competition to proceed this Saturday and Sunday near Salmon without requiring organizers to first secure a special-use permit for a commercial event on public land.
But the U.S. Forest Service says its rules don't require a special permit.
Dale has been asked to issue a temporary restraining order that would halt the event.
Event foes branded it a "wolf slaughter," while its organizers say few of the predators will likely be killed.