BOISE, Idaho – On Monday, a coalition of conservation organizations led by Defenders of Wildlife and Advocates for the West submitted a letter to the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) requesting the agency prohibit a vehement anti-wolf group from hosting an annual commercial “predator derby” on the lands it manages in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reversed its decision to authorize the proposed derby and withdrew the permit it had issued for the event covering more than three million acres of public BLM-managed lands in Idaho. But, the killing contest will still go forward on Forest Service lands on January 2, 2015, unless the agency takes steps to oppose the event.
In stark contrast to BLM, the Forest Service has not sought public comment or evaluated the adverse impacts this proposed predator derby would cause. Instead, on August 19 the Forest Service notified the derby proponents by letter that no permit was needed to hold the proposed derby within Salmon-Challis National Forest.
Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife senior representative for Rockies and Plains and Idaho resident, issued the following statement:
“We believe that the Forest Service is acting illegally by choosing to waive the required permit for a private group to hold this commercialized killing contest on a national forest. The Forest Service has a duty to conserve the lands and wildlife within our national forests and by condoning a commercial derby that reflects 19th century hatred towards predators, the agency has failed in its responsibility . By waiving the special use permit requirement for this commercial enterprise, the Forest Service is turning a blind eye to its stewardship responsibilities. Our public lands and the predators living on them deserve better than this.”
Bryan Hurlbutt, Staff Attorney at Advocates for the West, issued the following statement:
“BLM’s permitting process brought to light serious threats to public safety, wildlife, and wild lands from the derby. BLM ultimately denied the permit. It is unacceptable for the Forest Service to allow the derby on our public lands without any environmental review and public comment.”