Idaho Begins 2015 With 3-Day Wolf and Coyote Hunt
Two days from now, $1,000 prizes will be awarded to the two people who kill the most wolves and the most coyotes in an Idaho hunting competition.
The Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous, organized by a group called Idaho for Wildlife, began at sunrise Thursday morning and ends on Sunday, Jan. 4. The hunt is happening on about 3 million acres of privately owned ranchlands, as well as U.S. Forest Service land, near Salmon, a town in eastern-central Idaho that bills itself as “the birthplace of Sacajawea.”
A listing on coyotecontest.com notes that the contest includes two youth categories (ages 10–13 and 14–17) and bars traps as well as aerial and dog-assisted hunting. Idaho for Wildlife’s website was inaccessible at press time.
In mid-November, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued a five-year permit to Idaho for Wildlife that would have allowed the hunt on BLM lands throughout the state. But the BLM withdrew the permit two weeks later after conservation advocates sued the agency for not fully investigating the hunt’s environmental impacts, reported The Oregonian.
The BLM also received 56,500 public comments on the permit, most of them against the hunt, reported Boise State Public Radio.
The coyotecontest.com listing notes that participants must “sign a waiver stating that no predators taken on BLM land will be eligible” for prizes, suggesting that hunters might pursue animals on the agency’s lands nonetheless.
Wolves were nearly wiped out in the contiguous 48 states by the 1960s, and they were protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. But their numbers didn’t grow significantly until active efforts began in the 1990s to reintroduce them in some parts of their historic U.S. range.
Wolf populations in Alaska are considered healthy, while in Canada wolves still inhabit nearly all of their historic range. “We have 6,000 wolves in Alberta alone,” University of Alberta biologist Mark Boyce told Nature News recently. “Except for Mexican wolves, the populations in the lower 48 states add nothing to the genetic diversity of the species,” while expanding them could lead to more predation on livestock herds, he believes.
Since 2009, the Obama administration has removed federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies, including in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, as well as for wolves in nine states across the western Great Lakes region, including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Those moves turned wolf management over to the states.
But last month, a federal judge restored federal protection to wolves in the western Great Lakes, finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had violated the ESA when it took them off the endangered list in 2012. “[A]t times, a court ‘must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough,’ ” wrote U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in her final ruling on Dec. 19.
“This case is one of those times,” Howell continued, describing the move to delist the Great Lakes wolves as “no more valid than the agency’s three prior attempts to remove federal protections for a population of gray wolves, which are otherwise members of an endangered species.”