Letters from the West

BLM backs off wolf-coyote killing derby

The Bureau of Land Management yanked the permit of Idaho for Wildlife to hold a wolf and coyote derby on public lands in Idaho after a host of environmental and wildlife groups announced they were preparing to sue.

The Lewiston-based group has said it will go ahead with the derby on private lands like it did in 2013 where it offered two separate $1,000 prizes for killing the biggest wolf and most coyotes. The event attracted 100 hunters and the ire of the world on Idaho for what critics called a barbaric celebration of hate and killing.

"We didn't kill any wolves then and we probably won't kill any wolves this time," said Steve Alder, of Idaho for Wildlife.

He suggested it would be similar to a big bucks contest where the winner kills the deer with the biggest rack. Many states hold coyote derbies, he said.

The BLM initially approved the derby after several groups, including the extremely successful Advocates for the West, gathered their best attorneys to file briefs.

“BLM’s first-ever approval of a wolf hunting derby on public lands undercuts wolf recovery efforts, so it’s good they cancelled this permit,” said Laird Lucas, director of litigation at Advocates for the West, which represents Defenders of Wildlife.

The other groups included The Boulder-White Clouds Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Project Coyote, Western Environmental Law Center, Cascadia Wildlands, WildEarth Guardians and Defenders of Wildlife.

The hunt would have allowed up to 500 participants to compete to kill the largest number of wolves, coyotes and other animals for cash and prizes. Alder said people who kil wolve or coyotes on public land simply won't be able to enter.

“While it’s good to see BLM withdraw their permit, overall this killing contest remains a black eye for Idaho,” said Lynne Stone, director of Boulder-White Clouds Council. "These are our public lands and we should share them together peacefully and respectfully with wildlife.”