Nov 142014

Environmental groups are suing the Bureau of Land Management over approval of a "predator derby" on 3.1 million acres of BLM lands in Idaho (Defenders of Wildlife v. Kraayenbrink, 14-487, D. Id.).

The agency's Environmental Assessment, Finding of No Significant Impact and Decision Record "rely on numerous factual and legal misstatements, omissions, and unwarranted assumptions to downplay potentially significant adverse impacts to wildlife populations, recreational use, [Wilderness Study Areas], and other environmental values," the complaint says.

Approval of the derby is "directly contrary to the federal government’s wolf reintroduction efforts," the suit says. "[U]p to 500 entrants will compete over a three-day period each winter – starting on January 2, 2015 – to see who can kill the most and largest wolves and coyotes, and win cash and prizes." The lawsuit seeks to have the EA/FONSI and decision record vacated and reversed.

In addition to Defenders, other plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity, Project Coyote and Western Watersheds Project.

“We are aware of the social controversy regarding the event,” said Joe Kraayenbrink, BLM's Idaho Falls District Manager. “However, from our analysis, we could not find significant conflicts with other environmental resources that would prohibit the competitive event from occurring."

Unless stopped by the court, the derby will take place on about 3.1 million acres of land managed by the Challis, Salmon, and Upper Snake Field Offices of BLM's Idaho Falls District. "For the purposes of the competition, predators include a variety of species, including, wolves, coyotes, weasels, skunks, jackrabbits, raccoons, and starlings," BLM's EA says.

"Participants will bring their harvested predators to a location on private property within Salmon, where they will compete on a point system based on the number and types of predators harvested," the EA says.

The event promoter is Idaho for Wildlife, which states on its website that its mission is "to protect Idaho's hunting and fishing heritage. To fight against all legal and legislative attempts by the animal rights and anti-gun organizations who are trying to take away our rights and freedoms under the constitution of the United States of America. To hold all Government and State Agencies who are stewards of our Wildlife accountable and ensure that science is used as the primary role four our Wildlife management."

Press release on lawsuit