Wildlife groups sue over hunter hired to kill wolves in wilderness

rbarker@idahostatesman.comJanuary 7, 2014 

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Gus Thoreson, a hunter hired by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, rides into Cabin Creek from Flying B Ranch on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in December 2013.

PROVIDED BY ISAAC BABCOCK / HOBBIT HILL FILMS

Defenders of Wildlife and other groups filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Forest Service's assistance to a hunter-trapper hired to exterminate two wolf packs in the Frank Church River-of-No-Return Wilderness.

Tim Preso, an attorney with Earthjustice in Bozeman, Mont., filed the lawsuit after the Idaho Department of Fish and Game hired a hunter-trapper and put him up in a Cabin Creek cabin owned by the Forest Service. The lawsuit, filed with U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, says the Forest Service allowed the Fish and Game to carry out the wolf killing without meeting the requirements of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“A wilderness is supposed to be a wild place governed by natural conditions, not an elk farm,” said Preso.

Earthjustice is representing Idaho conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with three conservation groups — Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch.

“This wilderness was created to be a sanctuary for wildlife,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, a Defenders of Wildlife representative in Boise. “For me personally, and the people we represent, its not truly wilderness without wolves.”

Fish and Game said it needed to kill two of six packs of wolves to allow elk numbers to increase. Hunters have not been able to reduce the wolves in the area because it is so hard to access.

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