Magistrate Judge Candy Dale has scheduled a hearing to be conducted by telephone at 9:30 am this morning to hear testimony on the litigation that was filed by several groups challenging the US Forest Service’s decision not to require a special use permit for the 2-day wolf and coyote killing contest scheduled to be held this weekend in Salmon, Idaho. The plaintiffs have asked the judge to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the event from taking place on US Forest Service public lands. The BLM has informed the organizers that a special use permit is required for the event to take place on BLM public lands but the organizers have not applied for one.

The US Forest Service filed response briefs opposing a temporary restraining order that said the plaintiffs are not likely to prevail based on the merits of the case. A ruling will likely be issued by this afternoon since in-person registration is scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm in Salmon.

About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

51 Responses to Wolf/Coyote Killing Contest Hearing Scheduled for this Morning

  1. Richard G. says:

    I hope they stop this, we as tax payers have the right to be heard, the salmon river is a beautiful, but to use it for a contest in killing is just not a good thing IMHO

    • Ken Cole says:

      I really enjoyed this essay. I think, to some degree, the North American Model is useful but it is certainly not being applied to predators and species that don’t provide some kind of thrill. They are important too.

    • Nancy-
      I think the article you linked to does a good job of explaining the way predators and other “Varmits” are treated. The Salmon Wolf Killing Derby is just another example of wildlife laws gone wrong.
      The entire concept of individual states regulating hunting on federal public lands needs to be revisited.
      For example: The Birds of Prey Area, on federal BLM ground, south of Kuna, Idaho, was set aside to provide a place for eagles, hawks and owls to have room to find food(ground squirrels) and to raise their young.
      The state of Idaho allows the hunting of ground squirrels without limit in the area. In the spring and early summer, the area attracts “varmit hunters” who set up their shooting rests and kill thousands of the ground squirrels with high powered rifles. The sound of gunfire fills the air from dawn to dusk. The ravens do well feasting on the dead squirrels, but the eagle, hawks and owls do without.
      This state sanctioned “hunting” is completely at odds with the concept of a federal BLM “Birds of Prey Area”.

  2. WM says:

    OK, so how will this end in this round? BLM says permit needed. FS says no permit needed. Organizer has apparently not applied for a permit, but has incurred costs and created expectations among participants, and apparently no time to apply for a permit and get one at this late date, if required. Plaintiffs want to stop the event (and wolf/coyote hunting) entirely, and file suit a short week before the event it to take place. A ruling from the bench is expected, since event registration begins later in the day, followed (possibly) by an event beginning tomorrow (technically with IDFG shooting hours at a half hour before sunrise).

    Magistrate Dale is a Bush appointee, I believe. Local talent with a decent legal pedigree, on the bench a little over 5 1/2 years.

    Here’s the ironic part, even if the plaintiffs win. Every hunter (or accompanying person on the trip) who comes intending to participate in the event can still hunt wolves and coyotes for the week-end, pursuant to applicable IDFG wildlife laws. They will still stay in the same motels, and eat or drink in the restaurants and bars. They might still compare the results of their efforts. There just won’t be prizes awarded. But some might be a little pissed.

    So, contest or not, the underlying hunting will go on, and if wolf advocates interfere with hunters I bet the County Sheriff and IDFG LEO’s will be happy to write them up. Let’s hope there is no self-help that hurts anyone from either side.

    On the other hand, if plaintiffs lose, it may set a bad precident for future events of this type. As I said at the start of the other thread on this topic, this suit was a fool’s errand, except for the part where the federal government can’t decide consistently whether a permit is required, and that leaves them in an embarrassing position, which I am sure ID political heavy breathers just love.

    • JB says:

      WM is absolutely right–even if the event is stopped, the individuals involved are all legally able to pursue the same animals during the same time period and even compare results afterward. A few years ago I was involved with a study of fishing tournaments in the Midwest, and these facts led some states to not require any type of permit for tournaments. Others, however, noted that such events put considerable strain on existing resources (e.g. parking lots, boat ramps) and so opted to require permits simply so they knew when and where such events would occur (and could warn other anglers).

      A few years ago, a big fuss was made on this blog about a gathering of hippies on Forest Service lands. I don’t recall if a special permit was required, perhaps someone else does? In any case, my opinion is that any time an organized even happens on public lands–especially when money is involved–a permit should be required. This would allow the applicable agencies to AT LEAST accumulate knowledge about the location and popularity of such events. That knowledge could be used to ensure events don’t come into conflict (I’m laughing at the idea of the hippies and coyote killers showing up at the same location), and assess whether undue pressure is being placed upon public resources (which could justify further intervention).

    • JEFF E says:

      +1 from day one

      • mandyinseattle says:

        Wrong. If somebody is committing an act that is illegal, it doesn’t matter if a plaintiff tries to stop them a week ahead of time or a day ahead of time. If it’s illegal, it’s illegal, and lawbreakers don’t get a pass because it’s inconvenient to them. That’s the most childish and ridiculous thing I’ve heard this week. I hope the judge does the right thing and stops the slaughter.

        • Donald J. Jackson says:

          Problem is,

          There is nothing being done that is illegal. Hunting Wolves and Coyotes is currently legal. And based on precedence contests concerning wildlife is not illegal, there are many instances in this country that contests have been held on US Forest Service land, that has not required a permit.

          There are fishing and hunting contests held all over this country every month of the year, they are not required to get permits.

          • Ken Cole says:

            That’s not true. Fishing contests in Idaho do require permits.

            • Donald J. Jackson says:

              Keep Jumping Ken,

              But I will concede, I am not familiar with Idaho’s laws as I have not hunted there for over 20 years and I have never fished in Idaho.

              But you just keep jumping and I will keep answering.

              • Donald J. Jackson says:

                But despite the fact that Idaho requires permits, I will stand by my statement, there are contests held all over this country every month of the year, that DON’T require permits.

                When I posted, I did not stipulate a particular state, I said all over this country. So yes, it is true.

  3. Gina chronowicz says:

    I live in Britain and plan to visit the USA but neither my friends or I will set foot in a State that takes such sadistic enjoyment in persecuting the wolf. Such rabid hatred can’t be healthy.

    • Ellen Mass says:

      I wish we had more ‘tourists’ like you! the only way to stop such sadistic killings (contests or not) is to hit the states where it hurts. money/no money is the way to go.

  4. Louise Kane says:

    Don’t you think WM that the issue of consistency is a big one and that the govt. does need to decide this. I believe that killing contests are offensive to Americans, in general, and that if they decide that contests are permissible events, not requiring a permit they are on dangerous ground.

    • WM says:

      I think FS and BLM should be talking to each other (rather their respective legal counsel should), and speak with a unified position for the federal government, if the statutes governing their respective responsibilities allow.

      Also keep in mind there are no federally protected species involved at this point, and really what is a couple hundred hunters in the Salmon Zone, as compared to thousands of elk/deer hunters (some of whom have wolf tags or could otherwise shoot predator coyotes) in the woods for several weeks (not just two days, as this event is).

  5. Wyo Native says:


    As I predicted in the other post regarding this subject, it looks like the sponsor for this event has dropped the “Entrance Fee” to enter the event.

    So how will it be argued that this is still a Commercial Activity?

    • Ken Cole says:

      I don’t know but that, in itself, is kind of a win. I won’t even try to guess how this will turn out legally but I think that bringing attention to this issue has raised some very important questions. I think the rules are pretty clear regarding special use permits. If you are conducting a commercial activity on public lands you need to apply for a special use.

      I think it is also clear that there are many thousands of people who find these sorts of killing contests disgusting. Take a look at how many people have signed the various petitions.

      This issue has received a huge amount of attention and that is good.

      • Wyo Native says:

        So will Western Watersheds sue to stop Western Big Buck And Bull Contests in the future?

        They are identical in nature to the wolf contest, where licenses are required, entry fees are usually needed, prizes and rewards are determined by animal size, and a majority of the animals are taken on Federal BLM and NF lands without Special Use Permits.

        • Ken Cole says:


        • JB says:

          Wyo Native:

          Big buck contests give hunters points based upon the size of the animal they harvested, and wanton waste laws ensure the meat is recovered. Moreover, hunters can only harvest animals for which they have a tag.

          Predator derbies encourage people to kill as many predators as they legally can–in the case of coyotes, an unlimited number. And there are no laws requiring that either the meat or pelt be harvested, so entrants can turn in their carcasses for their reward and then dump them in a ditch.

          In these respects, the contests are very different.

          • Wyo Native says:


            I fully understand the difference that you described between the two types of contests. However those issues aren’t being litigated in this case in order to gain an injunction to halt the contest.

            What is being litigated is the requirement for the contest to obtain Special Use Permits in order to hold the contest. There are three main reasons for requiring a Special Use Permits for activities on Federal lands. They are as follows; 1. Verify the activity doesn’t violate any Federal, State or Local laws or regulations. 2. Verify that the activity doesn’t violate any of the regulation set forth in the Resource Management plan for the given area. 3. Verify that the activity doesn’t pose a risk to Public Safety, as well as inform the Public about said activity.

            One could argue that Big Buck or Bull contests that run weeks or even months, and involve larger amounts of people, have a much larger risk of violating Resource Management Plans, as well as having a much larger risk to Public Safety. Yet, no lawsuits.

            But I digress, the whole “Special Use” lawsuit was never meant to hold the government agencies accountable for their requirements, but rather it is being used as a tool to attempt to stop an action. I get it.

            • JB says:

              “…it is being used as a tool to attempt to stop an action. I get it.”

              Yes, exactly.

              My response was to your assertion: “They are identical in nature to the wolf contest…” From the perspective of permitting, perhaps. But they are far from identical in terms of the behavior they encourage.

          • Nancy says:

            “so entrants can turn in their carcasses for their reward and then dump them in a ditch”

            JB – in one of the news articles, I believe post on this site (from a previous killy contest) the pic clearly shows dead coyotes stacked up in a trailer like cord wood. And with fur prices at a 30 yer. high


            this event will certainly be “a for profit” event (fur buyers on site) Again, going against the principal of the NAMW.

  6. Louise Kane says:

    WM, knowing that you are not a proponent of killing contests how would you propose that plaintiffs get their foot in the door, so to speak to stop them on federal and state lands that are are home to wild public trust resources.

  7. Donald J. Jackson says:

    If I remember correctly, the organizer has already dropped the entry fee requirement and simply stated a donation is suggested. By dropping the entry fee, he has already changed the whole scope of this being a contest.

    Those who brought this suit, can’t prevent those who are legally licensed from hunting wolves and coyotes, even if an injunction is issued.

    As WM posted, you are still going to have a group of people out in the field hunting wolves and coyotes no matter what decision is handed down. An injunction can stop a “Contest” but it won’t stop individuals from going hunting.

    • JB says:

      In order to avoid arguing past one another, I think it’s important to consider the three implicit policy questions separately. Namely, (1) should a permit be required for contests or other organized events on public lands, (2) should predatory killing contests be allowed, (3) should hunting of wolves and coyotes be allowed at all? Keep in mind that one might support fair chase hunting of coyotes and wolves, while opposing organized ‘killing contests’.

      That such contests are explicitly allowed by states brings up yet another question–i.e., should organized killing contests be allowed on federal public lands? Or put another way, are such contests consistent with the purpose and mission of the federal agencies charged with managing these lands?

      • Louise Kane says:

        I like your questions JB
        good questions for a non biased survey seeking/documenting public opinion on these matters. I believe that the answers would support national legislation opposing killing contests and wild predators?

        This is important information that is debated endlessly with no real studies to back up the public opinion aspect

        • Ida Lupine says:

          This is all moot and academic – the fact that an illegal rider that cannot be challenged was attached to a Federal budget says it all – why would anyone think national legislation to protect predators can come about after that?

          Our current administration doesn’t even care about wildlife and is chipping away at the ESA! The fact that it is Democrats doing it just boggles my mind. And if it does, it isn’t going to be anytime soon – and our wolves are going to be killed off to dangerous numbers by then.

          Whether or not there is money involved doesn’t make it a contest or not – it’s the encouragement to take and waste as many animals as possible – a competition. And it certainly isn’t scientific management and care for a recovered species that the USF&W promised and reassured the American public after deisting.

  8. Mark L says:

    JB, I think you make greats points. Also, in my humble opinion, not giving rewards for certain animals (biggest, etc.) is HUGE in the overall picture. This alone seems a victory to me as it fails to legitimize the ‘point system obsession’ of some hunters. I’m sure some will show up just because they can take part in the present controversy, which isn’t what hunting is all about anyway.

    • JB says:

      Thanks, Mark. I agree that these events give hunters a black eye, and some groups will use these events to frame hunting as the wanton and purposeless killing of wildlife. I wish more hunters would speak out publicly against such events.

  9. Donald J. Jackson says:

    As the entry requirement has been removed from this event, the commercial aspect has disappeared, I can see the major hunting groups as well as the major 2nd groups taking this as a full frontal attack on hunting, without the original aspect of the lawsuit being present, it is looking like an attempt to ban hunting on Federal Lands.

    I can see this blowing up and ending up at the Supreme Court level in the future.

    • Ken Cole says:

      Why does everyone use the slippery slope argument?

      • Donald J. Jackson says:

        Why is it a slippery slope Ken, without the commercial aspect being present, then you are arguing that they still need a permit.

        WM stated it quite well earlier this morning, despite the outcome of this hearing, those people are still going to be hunting this weekend and continuing on with the suit, despite the commercial claim not being present, it will be taken as an assault.

        You know, you always jump my case, but I happen to be one of the few people on this blog that looks at all sides of the issue, unfortunately many on both sides of this issue don’t think or investigate the ramifications of an action, that seems completely unrelated to the action itself.

        • Ken Cole says:

          So it only matters if the hunters and NRA see this whole thing as an affront?

          • Donald J. Jackson says:


            I did not say that.

            • Ken Cole says:

              You seem to have implied it. Maybe the people who organized this shit fest should be worried about unintended ramifications.

              • Donald J. Jackson says:


                That I will agree with you on, both sides need to think out of the box and understand the unintended ramifications of their actions.

                I am not supporting this contest, you should know that by now.

      • Ida Lupine says:

        I don’t know, it seems that the entire premise for delisting and hunting wolves and the reason-for-being of the anti-wolf crowd is based on the slippery slope argument!

  10. Ann W says:

    A victory then, that the sponsors have taken away the commercial aspect of the entry fee. I think one of the reasons Mr. Shane McAfee and Steve Alder started this contest was to to engage animal rights people and send a message they can kill what they want, when they want. Their message does not carry with the people of the US and other countries.

    • Gail says:

      Ann W, I fully agree with you. As we now know, the plaintiffs did not win their case. There is a subset of hunters who I believe get off on upsetting and arguing with AR’s as much as they do with killing predators and McAfee may just be one of them. No one is going to tell them what they can do or not do.

      • Ida Lupine says:

        Really grownup behavior, isn’t it.

        • Julie Long Gallegos says:

          Hear hear. And a lot of the back-and-forth is, to me, no different than trying to decide how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  11. ramses09 says:

    Another example of a state that CANNOT manage its Wildlife.

    • Gail says:

      Idaho is not alone in this matter. I live in NY state and coyotes, for example, seem to have zero protection from our DEC. No bag limits….”contests” seem to be gaining in popularity and all but ignored….pelts no longer have to be “sealed” or labeled….there is a pending bill to allow coyote hunting year-round. I can’t believe they’d call that “management”.

  12. Ralph Maughan says:

    Ken Cole just emailed me that the judge did not grant a temporary restraining order on the “derby.”


December 2013


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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