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Conservationists celebrate win just 12 days after filing lawsuit to stop the wolf-hunting contest on public lands
King, Western Environmental Law Center, (406) 204-4852
SALMON, IDAHO—Conservationists are celebrating the news from the Salmon, Idaho U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office announcing the agency is withdrawing the 5-year permit it issued for a cruel killing contest on some of the wildest and most scenic BLM-managed public lands in the country. The move comes only twelve days after WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, and Boulder-White Clouds Council, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, filed a lawsuit to stop the “Predator Derby” killing contest on BLM and U.S. Forest Service-managed lands.
"We're pleased the BLM heeded our warning and recognized its permit allowing this killing contest to proceed was fatally flawed," said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. "Sadly, the U.S. Forest Service has not gotten the message, so we still have a fight on our hands to kick these horrifically cruel events off our public lands."
BLM’s change of heart comes after conservationists filed a lawsuit on November 13, 2014, in federal court challenging the agency’s issuance of a special 5-year permit allowing the event to take place. The lawsuit argued that the agency unlawfully relied on faulty analysis and failed to develop a full environmental impact statement.
“Closing public lands to this killing contest is the right thing—legally, ethically, and scientifically,” said Laura King of Western Environmental Law Center. “We applaud the BLM for this decision that puts wildlife and the public interest first.”
BLM staff anticipated as many as 500 participants would descend on public and private lands in eastern Idaho, trying to kill as many wolves, coyotes, and other animals as they could during a three-day period this winter holiday season. Last year, organizers offered prizes for the most coyotes killed and the largest wolf killed.
“While there is cause to celebrate this victory, we still must deal with the U.S. Forest Service lands,” said Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands. “That will take time, but we are happy to play the role of the proverbial tortoise if that is what it takes to walk away with a complete victory.”
Conservationists filed two separate lawsuits challenging the BLM permit; however, only the lawsuit brought by Western Environmental Law Center included a claim against the U.S. Forest Service for failing to require a permit or analyze the killing contest’s impacts. This lawsuit will continue in the wake of BLM’s welcome reversal, and will seek to compel the Forest Service to similarly block participants from competing to win prizes for wasting wildlife on our public lands.
“While it’s good to see BLM withdraw their permit, overall this killing contest remains a black eye for Idaho,” said Lynne Stone, director of Boulder-White Clouds Council and long-time Idahoan. “The Salmon-Challis National Forest should not be a part of this cruel event either. These are our public lands and we should share them together peacefully and respectfully with wildlife.”