Success! Feds Cancel Idaho’s Disgraceful Wildlife Killing Contest

In a victory for wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has withdrawn the permit it issued that would have allowed a multi-year wildlife killing contest to take place on more than three million acres of public lands in Idaho.

The controversy started last year when a hunters’ rights group ignited outrage after it decided to hold the first predator killing contest targeting coyotes and wolves in decades. Despite the trouble it caused, the group, Idaho for Wildlife, came back this year seeking a Special Recreation Permit from the BLM that would allow it to hold more of these contests on public lands annually for the next five years, with the first one scheduled for the beginning of this January.

The “hunt” would have allowed up to 500 participants, including children, to compete in a three-day event with the goal of killing the most wolves, coyotes and a number of other species for cash and prizes.

Wildlife advocates raised concerns about how killing in the name of fun and recreation harms wildlife, threatens public safety, conflicts with public land uses and supports the same mentality that led to the eradication of species like wolves in the first place, in addition to pointing out the vital role predators play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Despite an outpouring of public opposition–including over 28,000 petition signaturesfrom the Care2 community and comments from organizations including Project Coyote, the Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians, among others — the BLM granted the permit. It also simultaneously denied a permit request for a “wildlife viewing” contest submitted by conservation organizations.

Now the BLM is backing down after several wildlife advocacy organizations headed to court earlier this month to stop this event from taking place.

Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Project Coyote sued the BLM and Idaho District Manager Joseph Kraayenbrink seeking an injunction, arguing that the permit flies in the face of everything that has been done to help restore wolves to the landscape and that the agency failed to fully assess how it would impact the environment and public safety.

“It’s repugnant and shocking that wildlife-killing contests are still being allowed in the 21st century,”said Amy Atwood,senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, who represents the Center, Western Watersheds Project and Project Coyote. “In approving this contest, the BLM is out of step with an American public that no longer supports the slaughter of wildlife for sport. Indeed, more than 90,000 people submitted comments opposing the contest, yet the permit was still issued.”

WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands and the Boulder-White Clouds Council simultaneously fileda nearly identical lawsuit that also faulted the U.S. Forest Service for failing to require a permit or analyzing the contest’s impacts.

While Idaho for Wildlife reportedly remains intent on continuing to hold derbies, Bryan Hurlbutt, an attorney with Advocates for the West, countered that the BLM withdrawing its permit “thwarts the derby organizers’ attempt to expand the small derby held in Idaho last year into a major event, and gives us momentum to ensure these backwards events are never permitted on our public lands.”

“We’re so glad that the deadly derby has been canceled this year,”said Atwood. “These sort of ruthless kill-fests have no place in this century. We intend to pursue every available remedy to stop these horrible contests.”

As they celebrate the news, wildlife advocates are also still working to stop these wildlife killing contests from taking place elsewhere. In California, the Fish and Game Commission is preparing to vote next week on whether or not to ban this type of barbaric event throughout the state.

Those supporting the proposed ban are hopeful the commission will vote on the side of wildlife and that a win there will help set a precedent for other states to follow.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

380 comments

Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo3 years ago

Small step in the right direction

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Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo3 years ago

Small step in the right direction

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Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo3 years ago

Small step in the right direction

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Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo3 years ago

Small step in the right direction

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Charlotte Røjgaard

That's really good news - for now!

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Valentina R.
Valentina R3 years ago

Awesome. Hopefully this will be a permanent ban. All the other USA coutries need to do this, by the way.

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

I don't trust the BLM. They cater to fat wallets and will make back door deals with the highest bidder.

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Charles Graves
Past Member 3 years ago

Good.

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Alejandra Aboytes

Amazing news!

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