Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Defenders of Wildlife to Challenge BLM’s First-ever Approval of Wolf Hunting Derby on Public Lands in Idaho


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Suzanne Stone: sstone@defenders.org; (208) 861-4655
Laird Lucas:  llucas@advocateswest.org; (208) 342-7024 ext. 209

BOISE, Idaho –  Defenders of Wildlife will ask the courts to reverse a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision granting a permit for an Idaho anti-wolf group to hold a predator killing contest annually over the next five years on over 3 million acres of public land in eastern Idaho.

The court challenge will allege that, by allowing the predator derby targeting wolves, coyotes and other predators on public lands around Salmon, ID, BLM has undermined the Northern Rockies wolf recovery program that began in 1995 with reintroduction of wolves in Idaho and other states, and has violated the management standards set in place for potential and designated wilderness within the permit area. Defenders and other conservation groups have asserted that such commercial predator-killing derbies are a reflection of 19th century thinking and hatred towards predators and have no place on federal lands in the 21st century. They also say this persecution of predators flies in the face of modern day science that recognizes the valuable role that predators play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

BLM received over 100,000 comments from Defenders of Wildlife members and other conservationists, strongly opposing the proposed Idaho wolf derby. But rather than fully assess the proposal through an Environmental Impact Statement as required by federal law, BLM “fast-tracked” its approval and failed to address the many potential adverse impacts from such an event, including impacts on local and regional wolf and other predator populations and on 17 areas specially managed to preserve their wilderness characteristics.

“Commercialized killing contests to slaughter predators are something right out of the 1800s. It’s the same archaic tactic that pushed wolves toward extinction in the first place,” said Suzanne Stone, Idaho resident and Defenders of Wildlife Senior Representative for Rockies and Plains. “These events also show that Idaho’s state-sponsored war on wolves is spreading to federal agencies. By issuing the permit, BLM is reinforcing the belief among local residents that wolves should be treated like unwanted vermin. It is shocking that BLM is willing to embrace the 19th century anti-wildlife tactics that led to the demise of wolves and other native predators across the West.”

“BLM’s action approving the Idaho Wolf Derby on Idaho public lands over the next five years is contrary to the federal government’s commitment to recover gray wolves in the Northern Rockies,” added Laird J. Lucas, Director of Litigation at Advocates for the West, which is representing Defenders in the lawsuit. “Human persecution of gray wolves is the reason why they were listed under the Endangered Species Act more than forty years ago; yet BLM’s action puts the federal government’s stamp of approval on further persecution and anti-wolf sentiment, which is a wrong step for the government to take.”

Defenders will be represented in this case by Laird Lucas and Bryan Hurlbutt of Advocates for the West, a public interest environmental law firm based in Boise, Idaho.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @defendersnews.

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