- by Alicia Graef
Last year a hunters’ rights group in Idaho sparked outrage when it decided to hold the first predator killing contest targeting coyotes and wolves in decades, but it appears the group learned nothing after turning the town of Salmon into a battleground and is back seeking a permit to hold the event annually over the next several years.
The contest last year, sponsored by Idaho for Wildlife, awarded trophies and prize money for killing the largest wolf and most coyotes, among other things, and offered special prizes for a youth category for children between the ages of 10 and 14.
More offensive is that the contest kicked off on the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and marked the first time wolves were targeted in a predator derby since their reintroduction. While the group tried to claim it was just good old family fun, wildlife advocates called it out for what it really is – a reckless waste of life – and fought unsuccessfully to shut it down.
No wolves were killed last year, but 21 coyotes weren’t so lucky. Now, the group is back and is asking the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a Special Recreation Permit that would allow it to hold more of these contests on public lands for the next five years, with the first one scheduled for January 2-4, 2015.
This time around, the scope of the contest could be expanded to include even more species, including skunks and weasels.
Now organizations including Project Coyote and Defenders of Wildlife are urging the BLM to deny the permit because, among other reasons, hosting a predator derby is an offensive misuse of our public lands, they could impact a host of species at a time when food is scarce and they are exactly the type of thing that drove predators like wolves to the brink in the first place.
These contests are also incompatible with the scientific principles that are, in theory, supposed to guide wildlife management decisions and defy the principles of ethical hunting. These events aren’t about managing wildlife or controlling predator populations, they’re about killing for fun and for the profit and entertainment of a few who decide to participate and they completely ignore the important role predators play in healthy ecosystems.
Tell the BLM to Shut This Down
While the BLM doesn’t regulate hunting, it can make sure these contests don’t take place on federal public land, which belongs to all of us. The agency will be accepting public input on the scope of what it should consider in its Environmental Assessment for a few more days until August 18. The agency will be considering how this contest will impact economic and social values, the impact on existing recreational uses, and how they would affect wildlife habitat and threatened species in the targeted area.
You can send a comment, with all of your contact info so its counted for the official record, to Liz Townley, Outdoor Recreation Planner, at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Re: DOI-BLM-ID-I000-2014-0002-EA.
Project Coyote is also offering talking points and keeping track of the letters we send; you can cc them on your email at: email@example.com