With Lawsuit Pending, BLM Cancels Idaho Predator-killing Derby Permit
BOISE, Idaho —In response to a lawsuit from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management has decided to cancel a permit allowing an anti-wolf organization to conduct a “predator derby” on more than 3 million acres of public lands near Salmon, Idaho.
As lawyers for the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Project Coyote and Defenders of Wildlife were preparing to file a request to stop this year’s derby on BLM lands, the agency decided to withdraw its decision to allow “Idaho for Wildlife” to conduct a contest to kill the most wolves, coyotes, and other species over three days every year for five years, beginning Jan. 2, 2015.
“We’re so glad that the deadly derby has been canceled this year,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, who represents the Center, Western Watersheds Project and Project Coyote. “These sort of ruthless kill-fests have no place in this century. We intend to pursue every available remedy to stop these horrible contests.”
News of BLM’s decision came from an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing the BLM in the groups’ litigation, who conveyed the news just as attorneys for the groups were preparing to file a major brief to stop this year’s hunt.
“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 hunt would have allowed up to 500 participants compete to kill the largest number of wolves, coyotes and other animals for cash and prizes. Contest organizers are hoping to expand their contest statewide.
“It’s hard to imagine a more objectionable event than an award-laden killing festival,” said Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Let’s all hope that this is the beginning of the end of such activities.”
Wolves were removed from the endangered species list in 2011 following many years of recovery efforts in central and eastern Idaho, where public lands are supposed to provide core refugia in the face of aggressive hunting and trapping in Idaho.
“Killing wildlife for fun and prizes on public lands that belong to all Americans is not only reprehensible, it is also a violation of the Public Trust Doctrine and contravenes Idaho Fish and Game’s policy condemning killing contests as unethical and ecologically unsound,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “It is high time the BLM acknowledges that wildlife killing contests are not an acceptable ‘use’ of public lands.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Western Watersheds Project works to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in the West through education, public policy initiatives and legal advocacy.
Project Coyote is a national non-profit organization promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy. Join our community on Facebook and Twitter.
229 Responses to With Lawsuit Pending, BLM Cancels Idaho Predator-killing Derby Permit
Subscribe to Blog via EmailJoin 952 other subscribers
- More Hype On Fuel Breaks March 29, 2023
- Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support March 27, 2023
- The Douglas Fir National Monument Proposal March 24, 2023
- Biden Designates Two National Monuments March 21, 2023
- Biden Administration Approves Willow Project and Other Threats to Alaskan Wilderness March 13, 2023
- Millie Hoff on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Jeff Hoffman on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Maggie Frazier on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Jeff Hoffman on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Ed Loosli on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Jeff Hoffman on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Ida Lupine on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Ted Chu on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Ed Loosli on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Maggie Frazier on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- David on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Ed Loosli on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Ed Loosli on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Linda Horn on Pryor Mountains Horse Management Plan Revision Needs Support
- Jean Brocklebank on The Douglas Fir National Monument Proposal
These “wildlife killing contests” are true “Crimes Against Nature,” and should be outlawed nationwide. They are indiscriminate, often only exacerbate the perceived problem, and serve only to give ALL hunting a bad name.
Ethical hunters, if they’re the conservationists they claim to be, should be leading this effort.
It indeed takes a village plus dedicated organizations, to fight for wildlife and wild lands.
Tis the season! Donate to keep them strong!
Non-frivolous Use – In North America we can legally kill certain wildlife for legitimate purposes under strict guidelines for food and fur, in self-defense, or property protection. Laws are in place to restrict casual killing, killing for commercial purposes, wasting of game, and mistreating wildlife.
The rules of proper use, both in written law and personal ethics, did not exist in commercial market and sustenance hunting cultures. As these activities faded, what remained was recreational, sport hunting. What separated a true sportsman from market gunners was an ethical code of personal conduct that was defined and promoted by the Boone and Crockett Club. These same tenets of Fair Chase were used as the cornerstone of modern-day game laws. Club member, Aldo Leopold is credited with framing the concept of a land ethic and managing entire biotic communities. Combined, the foundations for the proper use of The intricate nature of ecosystems and biotic communities, of which all wildlife and man belong, will be managed under the knowledge of science rather than opinion, or conjecture.
wildlife and the habitats that support them was put in place to support conservation, defined by Club member, George Bird Grinnell as,” wise use without waste.”
Thank you for your historical perspective. I find the very notion of killing for fun to be repugnant. We must stay united in our efforts to halt the massacre of wildlife because Sportsmen United and the NRA are powerful lobbyists with deep pockets. But the animals they are killing belong to all of us and are not their’s to kill for enjoyment.
This is, indeed, great news that BLM decided not to issue a permit. BUT, exactly what does it mean?
Does this mean the sponsors are cancelling the event? Does it mean only that participants can’t hunt on BLM lands if they are contestants? Does it mean that the event will go forward just on USFS and private lands? Does it mean BLM will take some action against participants who hunt (legally otherwise it would appear) on BLM lands, but are entered into the contest, and exactly how would they stop them?
As I recall there were two lawsuits filed by different plaintiff groups, one against BLM only (this one), and another against BLM and the USFS. So, BLM says it’s not issuing a permit (withdraw their decision to allow the contest), so it would appear they are out of one suit since the only claim against them apparently went away, while the USFS basically said the group didn’t need one, and that case, thus far, is still pending.
Here is the rub. USFS says no permit needed (and I think there was a similar ruling by a federal magistrate for the event they held last year). If BLM says it’s not issuing a permit, does that mean they also reached the conclusion one was not needed, as well, with the event structured as it is (no real commercial activity occurring on federal land), or can BLM stop participation in the event on lands under its stewardship?
Without more, I’m confused.
Thankyou for attempting some analysis.
I think what this means is that the derby can’t take place on BLM lands but can continue on US Forest Service and private lands. I didn’t write the press release and didn’t know about it unit very early this morning, shortly before I posted it. Since my group isn’t involved with the other litigation, I don’t know what the other litigants might do. I’m not sure if they filed for an expedited Motion for Summary Judgement like we did or not. The US Forest Service deciion not to require a SRP is still on the table. I hope they win.
Thanks for the clarification, Ken. I know you are characteristically very careful in your writings.
I have not read the complaint associated with this press release but ours does name the Forest Service as well as the BLM, so only private land would be available. http://www.cascwild.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Wolf-and-Coyote-Derby-Complaint.pdf
Aren’t US Forest Service lands also public lands, and wouldn’t the Public Trust Doctrine apply to them as well? I know we cannot control private lands, but laws should protect OUR public wildlife, even if they stray onto unfenced private land. Immer Treue says:
“Non-frivolous Use – In North America we can legally kill certain wildlife for legitimate purposes under strict guidelines for food and fur, in self-defense, or property protection. Laws are in place to restrict casual killing, killing for commercial purposes, wasting of game, and mistreating wildlife.” If this is true, it must apply to private land. I know it is illegal to collect animals and torture them on private land, so laws should extend protection of a public “resource”.
This is a great victory, but we still need to win the war.
This is, however, is a big win because most of the hunting this time of year will take place on low elevation and easily accessible land. This drastically reduces the lands that the organizers hoped to hold the derby on. The organizers told the BLM they wanted to hold the derby statewide. That being the case, this would have set a precedent which would require an Environmental Impact Statement not just an Environmental Assessment.
i too am not sure if i am understanding this as a win or a tactic maneuver
It is a very good step. Sure hope USFS wises up as well. Most Americans do not want wanton slaughter of wildlife for prizes. This addiction to killing must be healed.
It is a very good step. I’m happy our government agencies are not going to be giving their blessing to this travesty. As has been said above, it isn’t what the American public feels is appropriate use of our public lands, but disrespectful and self-interested – and it is abusive to all wildlife, esp. a recently recovered species.
Thank you for becoming involved, Rep. DeFazio!
Thanks for the link, Ida. From that source here is a peer review of the Lolo plan: http://www.fws.gov/idaho/graywolves/FinalEA/Lolo10appendB.pdf
Does this mean that they can’t hunt in the area? I read on here that this area is open for hunting during the time the contest was held. So will the people not be allowed to hunt in the area the contest was going to be?
Anyone with a hunting license can still hunt coyotes on blm and usfs holdings and if they have a wolf tag they can hunt wolves. This decision only means that the organized hunting derby cannot be held.
Further Analysis –
article: “News of BLM’s decision came from an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing the BLM in the groups’ litigation”.
In attempting further analysis of these legal cases; Since the U.S. Dept. of Justice would also be representing the U.S. Forest Service, to be consistent, I would think the U.S. U.S. Dept. of Justice now has to prevent these killing contests on U.S. Forest Service land as well.
You might consider the fact that the BLM (Dept. of Interior) and the US Forest Service (Dept. of Ag.) have different enabling legislation, different management objectives on lands they manage, and importantly operate under different federal regulations drafted and adopted pursuant to their enabling legislation. You might also consider that each Department has its own DOJ lawyers from their respective Solicitor Office, and thus they are independent DOJ clients. It is typically the client which makes the decision how to proceed (after consultation with its lawyer(s), of course.
But, you may be on to something with the need to be “consistent.” That takes it to the next question – does the derby sponsor need a permit or doesn’t it, with FS already saying NO they don’t, including the ruling of a federal court magistrate regarding last year’s event.
The Center for Biological Diversity does such good work!
You made my day with this news! Thank you!
The result of this decision is that the derby will not be allowed on 3.1 million acres of low-lying winter range on BLM land. Hunting can still occur, but the targeted killing derby cannot. BLM made this decision to avoid defending the permit in court, as we were about to file a major brief to stop this year’s hunt. It is accurate that the Forest Service refused to require a permit, which is a problem. We’re weighing our options, but we haven’t made any decision not to go after the Forest Service too, even if they are not yet named in our suit. Today, however, we celebrate a hard-won victory.
Can you distinguish what constitutes “not allowing the derby” on BLM lands really means?
If a hunter, exercising her/his state privilege to hunt for a particular predator on BLM lands during the period of the event and enters the contest (an act done off BLM land) how will BLM know, or how can they stop them from receiving a prize?
Since they no longer have a permit, that scenario would be an illegal use of public land under BLM regs, subject to charges and fines. I can’t speculate as to whether and how BLM would know that a particular hunter has violated the code, but if it came to BLM’s attention then they would have an obligation to enforce their regulations.
Amy, hunters have a right to shoot predators on any BLM land in Idaho so long as they follow Idaho hunting seasons. Coyotes and foxes are not regulated in Idaho and wolves have a season and tags. BLM lands are managed as multiple use and hunting is one of those uses to deny a hunter his/her rights is a violation of multiple use.
Whether a permit is needed or not the organizers of the event can make modifications to get around any permit.
If the land is still open to hunting, how will they stop people from hunting wolf and cyotes?
++… if it came to BLM’s attention then they would have an obligation to enforce their regulations.++
What regulations would they be enforcing…if an animal was lawfully taken under state law? To my knowledge, BLM has no jurisdiction over a private party (the sponsor’s acts of holding the derby, taking entry fees and awarding prizes) engaged in an activity which does not occur on federal land. The taking of wildlife is a matter of state law.
Thank you for this victory… You and your colleagues have certainly gotten under the skin of the “state’s rights hunting crowd”, some of whom are festering on this site. It is high-time that the feds started asserting their rights to protect and preserve OUR public lands and natural resources, including predators.
I think there is a fine line between what are the respective rights of the state and the federal government regarding management of wildlife on federal lands. That is the crux of this matter. Typically the federal government does not manage wildlife except as expressly stated in federal law. That does not exist here, by the way.
It would seem the appropriate avenue for regulating this is for the state to pass a law or if enabling legislation already allows, for IDFG to adopt a regulation prohibiting this kind of event.
And before you get your undies all in a knot, recognize this a pretty complex issue, which could, if extended, include what kind of relationship a state wildlife agency might have with respect to its authority to manage wolves in designated Wilderness (which also has some litigation history).
This is a much bigger issue than the derby event, and I expect there are quite a few vested interests watching this as it unfolds for the second year.
My understanding is that this site remains neutral on the issue of hunting so it is perfectly acceptable for a hunter or two to “fester” here.
You are right that the federal government is tasked with preserving our public lands and natural resources. “Our” includes hunters. Tell me how this derby would have negatively impacted your ability to enjoy the public land. By the way, it is not a resource if it is not being used.
Here is an example of how the predator killing contest might affect me and others personally as the “use” of our natural resources, including predators: I am a photographer, and if the coyote I wanted to “use” by taking a picture of it is killed, I can no longer enjoy “using it” for my benefit as a photographer — and no one else can “use it” either, because it’s DEAD.
I legally kill an elk/deer/moose/bear/sheep with the proper license and during the season. Does my action of legally killing a prey animal that you wanted to photograph infringe on your rights because you can no longer use it for your benefit as a photographer.
The answer to your question is, Yes… Please see the message below from Rance S. for further illumination.
I think that is a weak argument. There are still other coyotes out there to photograph.
If we were to use that reasoning for other situations then nobody should be allowed to use toilet paper because I can no longer enjoy the tree that had to be cut down to produce it because now it’s DEAD.
I’m not sure I understand the strategy in shutting down predator derbies. What does this accomplish for the conservation movement?
They’re ridiculous, but the participants don’t seem to be terribly successful in killing anything other than coyotes. This appears to be more about sticking it to the people who participate more than anything else.
If they now hold a ‘derby that’s not really a derby’ then we’ll know it’s done out of bitterness, and not for the purpose of hunting…should be interesting. What are the implications for the conservation movements? Tough call.
They can still hold the derby, they just can’t do it on BLM land. I would say the folks who would like to slaughter the wildlife on lands that are owned by EVERYONE are the ones sticking it to the general population. Litigating against such use on public land is the way to see our wildlife resources managed managed in a way that benefits the environment and the majority of tax-paying Americans.
I vaguely remember a quote from a B.C. first nations leader in regards to the grizzly trophy hunt and I believe applies here. I can’t remember his exact words, but it fell along the lines of “If you take the creature, the creature can only be enjoyed the taker. If you allow the creature to live and prosper, that creature can be enjoyed by thousands.”
Does that mean the BLM lands are now closed to hunting?
“The people who particpate” freely proclaimed in the original
threat‘hear ye’ notice that these derbies were to stick it to those who would infringe upon their 2nd Amendment rights and environmentalists/wildlife advocates.
They wanted to expand the range and also, so as not to look like they were singling out wolves, added coyotes, rabbits, starlings, and ‘anything that moves’. At least these antics will not be sanctioned by the government, and they are on their own.
Last year, when we registered for the event, we asked the organizers for clarification as to whether or not we could hunt on Forest land or BLM land or private land.
The organizers flagrantly and explicitly told us, to much of their own chagrin – almost excitedly, that they would not be asking the participants where they killed their prize. We were then advised on a map as to some areas we might get lucky and told that it is not illegal to hunt on Forest land or BLM land.
While browsing up the East Fork, we ran into some participants of the derby who had advised us that the ranchers in the area were telling everyone that if you’re there for the derby, pay no heed to our ‘no trespassing’ signs. Just blast them all to oblivion.
On one of the nights, a number of miles outside of town on our approach of Challis, one of us noticed a strange light. We all looked west across the Salmon River. Someone was spot-lighting what ended up being a bait pile. The truck had a mount-spotlight on top of the cab, the light cast across the hillside back and forth with an individual wielding a rifle behind it.
During the entire derby we did not run into a single law enforcement official looking for anything other than us, the “eco-terrorists.” “Have you seen any?”
We sometimes think that others think like us. That our reverence for the rule of law, or for basic compassion and decency, is shared among all.
We are wrong in that.
There is no court order with a far enough reach, no injunction that would bring a halt to that horror.
They just do it anyway. A federal judge’s piece of paper otherwise does little more than bolster their sense of urgency, galvanize their resolve that what they are doing is a political act of self defense. It’s a part of their identity, it’s who they are.
We might feel better of ourselves that we win this lawsuit or that, but that’s for us. “We win” we tell ourselves. And well done.
But the derby is on.
“On one of the nights, a number of miles outside of town on our approach of Challis, one of us noticed a strange light. We all looked west across the Salmon River. Someone was spot-lighting what ended up being a bait pile. The truck had a mount-spotlight on top of the cab, the light cast across the hillside back and forth with an individual wielding a rifle behind it.”
If the light was coming from across the river how were you able to see a bait sight or a rifle out of a truck window after dark. Do you have night vision binoculars?
If that is what you saw was the person in the truck a participate of the predatory derby? Generally property along the Salmon River is private. Was the person protecting there property rights? Unless you personally verify what you have reported there could be several different scenarios.
Wow Elk!! It is amazing the lengths you go to twist yourself into knots in trying and justify poachers, slob hunters and other wildlife criminals — all in the name of “state’s rights” and “private property rights”. How about the rights of the poor wildlife that belongs to all the people, not lethal individuals?
Wildlife does not belong to all of the people it belongs to the respective state as of now. What will happen in the future is to be seen. The state has the authority to either have a hunting season or not to have a hunting season which the exception of the federal migratory waterfowl and animals under the Endangered Species Act.
I do not justify poachers or wildlife criminals, they are criminals. Slob hunters – -what is a slob hunter? What is your definition of a slob hunter?
I do not twist myself into knots. You are the one who wants to end hunting and have the federal government control all wildlife in this country. It is not going to happen in the next 10 years.
I think that the Endangered Species Act is going to be modify within the next several years; it will happen with the Sage Hen.
Elk, being born and raised in Salmon and Stanley, Idaho the majority of land along the river is public lands, not private. and spotlighting game, be it for food or other purposes is against the law under Fish and Game guidelines. I am old enough to remember back in the early sixties when they had the same type of hunt for mountain Lion in the Custer county area. The next 4 years saw horrific over population of Deer, Elk, Rabbits and other grazers. So much so that they were starving to death in large numbers, as there were no larger predators to cull their numbers. This lead directly to the over population of Jack Rabbits that then lead to the large Jack Rabbit hunts in later years. My family are all hunters, but my father, being a WWII vet taught us not to kill anything we were not going to eat. I understand wildlife management and the need for numbers control, but wholesale slaughter is just that, the gleeful killing of anything you are not willing to eat is just killing for the sake of killing, which makes these types of killers, I won’t call them hunters because hunters have a vested interest in the lawful management of their prey, beyond horrific.
Thanks for posting Rusty Bucket
Its good to hear a hunter condemn these “contests”.
As a conservationist, I totally agree with this statement. Anti-killing-contest folks, like myself, are often characterized as anti-hunter, anti-states’ rights, or anti-freedom. That’s just a false attempt to debase our valid concerns by simply pegging us as liberal extremists.
However, one does not have to be anti-hunting to be opposed to senseless hate-based killing contests–which, as you beautifully described, is not hunting: “wholesale slaughter is just that, the gleeful killing of anything you are not willing to eat is just killing for the sake of killing, which makes these types of killers, I won’t call them hunters because hunters have a vested interest in the lawful management of their prey. . . .”
I am an Idahoan; I grew up shooting, hunting, and camping. I know that Idaho has some of the best places for outdoor recreation in the country. That’s why I support sensible ecosystem-based wildlife conservation and management.
You represent the reasonable voice of Idaho hunters that must be heard. It’s unfortunate that the most vocal residents of Salmon seem to be those who have extreme hate toward wolves, coyotes, and any other predator simply doing what predators do.
Thanks for the heart felt info. & opinion RustyBucket. You are the type of hunter I respect. Your dad taught you well.
“We sometimes think that others think like us. That our reverence for the rule of law, or for basic compassion and decency, is shared among all.”
It’s not shared by a vocal and restless minority that have spent too much time on the fringes of society to recognize the face of reality. Humanity is ever-evolving and those that would support such a contest are part of a rapidly shrinking enclave. They can hold on to their century-old beliefs while kicking and screaming all they want to, but they cannot stall the passing of time and the evolution of human consciousness. Eventually their beliefs will become no more than memory.
Great work infiltrating last year’s derby by the way. Chris Ketcham’s “How to Kill a Wolf” article is an excellent piece of journalism.
For anybody just tuning in, here’s Chris’s article. How to Kill a Wolf:
Still laugh when I look at the lineup on the couch 🙂
+1. Very good summation.
Thank you for your under cover work..
“We sometimes think that others think like us. That our reverence for the rule of law, or for basic compassion and decency, is shared among all.
We are wrong in that.” Very True!
From the Way-Back Machine, last year’s derby:
A predator management policy adopted 13 years ago by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission states: “Fish and Game will not support any contests or similar activities involving the taking of predators which may portray hunting in an unethical fashion, devalue the predator, and which may be offensive to the general public.”
I have to say that I disagree with this outcome. An unpopular opinion to hold on this site but I have no problem with regulated predator hunting and so had no qualms with a contest.
A 3-day predator hunting derby would have no more impact on the surrounding environment than has the already open hunting seasons on coyotes and wolves. This is at best a hollow victory for the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Project Coyote and Defenders of Wildlife. They haven’t stopped predator hunting they have only stopped the contest. Seriously, what harm does the contest itself do? None, that is why the BLM originally approved the permit. The contest itself has no impact.
Now before you crucify me, let it be known, as I have stated since I first began participating on this site that I am not anti-wolf or anti-predator. I simply do not see why it is so abhorrable to allow hunting of predators in the current environment of regulated hunting and population monitoring. If the animals were on the brink of extinction of course I would not support hunting them. But since coyotes and wolves are far from extermination, this derby would not harm the population of wolves and coyotes in the state.
I think it is about respect for the animal. It’s not right, in our uniquely human way, to make a political statement by taking it out on a defenseless creature. Ordinary hunting doesn’t do this.
The rules say no spotlighting and trapping, hunting only, so some people seem to be taking advantage by baiting and poaching also.
Wolves were removed from the protection of the Endangered Species list not because they are “far from extermination”, but for political reasons having nothing to do with the fact that wolves have NOT recovered enough to avoid extinction — and now that the killing has resumed, wolves in the Rocky Mt. states and Wisconsin are in an even steeper decline toward extinction. Because of the wolf slaughter going on in Idaho, Montana and probably soon again in Wyoming, there is less hope that wolves will ever recover into historic wolf habitat in California, Colorado, Utah and Arizona (one gray wolf in Arizona will not do).
Perhaps we can put the shoe on the other foot…
Let’s bring in all the hunters, concentrate them in acertain area and have a deer/elk/moose derby. See how many can be killed and prizes given to the biggest and most?
A predator derby is a killing contest. If hunting predators is legal, why make a contest out of it? If humans ever got/get their acts together in regard to themselves, this sort of contest will be a thing of the distant past. There exists no need for it.
Fur is easily supplanted by other fabrics. If you’re not going to eat it, don’t kill it. The”sport killing” stereotype is the sole realm of man. It is frivolous, and unnecessary.
Deer and elk contests happen every year. Prizes are awarded for the biggest, no prize can be awarded for the most because in Idaho you can only kill one deer and one elk per year.
The contests are not a question of need, there are a lot of things humans do that we don’t need to do.
As for other fabrics being able to supplant fur I disagree. Other fabrics require non-renewable materials and chemical processes that pollute our waterways and endanger native fish populations. Fur is a renewable resource.
“Deer and elk contests happen every year.”
The fact that people have made a contest out of killing in the past is not a good reason for such contests to continue in the future (human societies have also at times condoned mass murder, systematic disenfranchisement, racism, and other atrocities).
“The contests are not a question of need, there are a lot of things humans do that we don’t need to do.”
You are correct that “need” is not the only justification for a particular action or policy. However, the fact that some people want to do something does not make it right.
The aspect you (and resource management agencies) seem to continually miss here is that there are other criteria (other than effects on populations) by which to evaluate the legitimacy of an action. By any measure, the “we should get to having killing contests because we’ve had them in the past” and the “we should get to have killing contests because we want to kill things” arguments fail, and fail miserably.
Because it is free association of people with common interests. That’s not the same as arguing every particular gathering is beneficial. Perhaps we should outlaw groups of more than 4 snowmobiles or horses. I’d like that, but I’m not sure others would.
You and others miss the point – free association to kill is unacceptable to most people. Some cannot get it through their consciousness that what’s not ok for people shouldn’t be ok for other living things unless there is an extremely important, overriding reason. Devaluing life for a killing contest isn’t one of them. This isn’t the KKK.
I still can’t get the image of a large group of people fanning out over a large area all intending to kill an animal. It is backward. Zombies!
Just because something is unacceptable to you does not mean that your ideology should be regarded higher than someone who disagrees with you.
That is absolutely true, Logan. Fortunately, we have logic and reason to sort out the validity of people’s claims and interests; what we lack is an institution to act as judge or jury in such disputes.
“Just because something is unacceptable to you does not mean that your ideology should be regarded higher than someone who disagrees with you.”
In response to your argument, consider these numbers:
56,490 people submitted comments to BLM opposing the contest permit; 10 people wrote in support. (see paragraph 65, page 21 of https://advocateswest.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Idaho-Predator-Hunt-Derby-complaint-FILED3.pdf)
So, what’s your response? It’s not just one person’s ideology. Obviously many more people align more with her than with you. Or, at the very least, of the people who hold views strong enough to prompt the submission of comments, 99.98% (56490/56500) felt that a wolf-killing contest is a bad idea.
“Obviously many more people align more with her than with you. Or, at the very least, of the people who hold views strong enough to prompt the submission of comments, 99.98% (56490/56500) felt that a wolf-killing contest is a bad idea”
This was not just a wolf killing contest, Rance, its a contest being held to kill any form of wildlife that falls under the guise of predators, with “prizes” awarded.
I often wonder what this sad, sick little aspect of society would do with themselves if they were denied the opportunity to thrill kill?
how about outlawing snowmobiles, jet skis, atvs anywhere on public lands. walk or ski or don’t go.
I am still learning about public lands, but I don’t understand why you would ban these things, if the owners are also part of the public that owns these lands also? Are there parts of the public lands they can be used on?
I am not arguing that the past is justification for continuation of an action. I am stating that there is no reason to disallow predator hunting. The fact that it is conducted as an organized contest does not change that.
I mentioned the deer and elk contests in direct response to Immer’s comment asking if I felt they would be acceptable. She seemed to be under the impression that hunting contests are only conducted for predator hunting.
++Fur is easily supplanted by other fabrics.++
Not so quick. Forty years in Bethel, Alaska I purchased a ruff of wolverine fur and wolf fur and one of the local women sew them on to the hood of my parka, wolverine first, wolf second. The camp and crew moved 200 miles north of Kotzebue, Alaska for the winter months. In Kotzebue I purchase a pair of caribou legging mukluks.
I used my mukluks everyday and my feet were always warm whereas any other boot I wore my feet would get cold. There is no man made fabric that can replace wolf and wolverine on a park hood. I spent many days outside when the wind chill went off the charts at -148. Until one has been in the those conditions for weeks on end does one appreciate fur.
“There is no man made fabric that can replace wolf and wolverine on a park hood”
Wow! That’s a really good reason Elk, to part THEIR hides from THEIR bodies, so our fricken species can be “comfortable” or what sadly is happening… in fashion.
I was not fashion, it was everyday survival in the arctic, until you have been there in the winter you would not understand.
So how many hides (predators) sacrificed today Elk, are addressing what you went thru in winters past?
Elk375, the SSCS does just fine surviving the Arctic without any fur,unfortunately you cannot understand this concept of others that see a rational and compassionate future for our Wildlife, not your version of a inherited apathetic bloodlust. This is a flaw in your DNAby a learned association of which your kind is so fervently trying to pass on to your innocent children. It’s repulsive to me and others that this has gone on for so long, and we will change this corrupt system of Wildlife management as it is now, representing the very few to a more civilized and compassionate agency to represent the majorities wishes for these beautiful animals that deserve to live their lives free from torture and death of violently rouge humans.
Is it your position that the Idaho predator killing contest is being held to outfit Alaskan natives with the footwear they need to survive the high arctic?
Now that’s funny 🙂
Not at all. Mukluks are made from animal parts not found in Idaho, so how can a predator killing contest in Idaho have be used to outfit Alaskan natives. I still have my mukluks unfortunately they are getting old and starting to come unraveled.
What does a predator contest in Idaho have to do with footwear for arctic natives, they have there own resources.
I think that I might just go to Salmon and see what all this fuss is about. Ski Lost Trail one or two days and soak in Gold Bug Hot Springs one or two days. I love the Salmon River country.
Your original comment could have been read as an illustration of two different principles:
P1. An activity is justified if it is undertaken to fulfill some basic human need (e.g., warmth).
P2. An activity is justified if it could conceivably result in the fulfillment of some basic human need (e.g., I *might* turn my wolf into a warm pair of slippers).
I agree with P1. I’ll not be condemning any Inuits (or any other group) for killing animals in order to survive. However, I’m not on board with P2. Why? Because the *possibility* of fulfillment of some need simply isn’t sufficient to justify the killing of a sentient animal.
In any case, the current “derby” has not been justified in such utilitarian terms. Rather, it is killing for the sake of killing (or killing for self-gratification). I have not seen any explanation/reasoning that justifies such action.
Not that I find much strength in these utilitarian arguments, but, here are a couple:
1. Ranchers have said they want some of these predators (coyotes and wolves) gone from their private land and adjacent public land because they endanger livestock, and the state is complicit with its wildlife laws that allow take of them, some without any limit on number.
2. There is a commercial market for certain predator pelts in good winter condition (check Ebay to get prices, and there sure are a lot for sale, maybe most are trapped, but some no doubt shot, esepecially coyotes for only their tails).
Neither of these reasons has to do with “killing for the sake of killing.” There is utility to both, however distasteful.
Nowadays, utility is a stretch. We don’t have the right to kill and animal, take its skin and make money from it – we take it. You could say there is utility in car theft and thievery also. If these animals could fight us back, such as other humans have done when they have been exploited, you wouldn’t have it. But as it is, they are helpless to stop us with our weapons, self-interest, and craftiness.
Good points, WM. First, the existing evidence does not support the idea that #1 will actually lead to the desired state (i.e., less depredations). Targeted removal of offending animals is another matter. So it provides a poor justification for having a killing contest.
#2 is, on the surface, appears a bit harder. However, as you and others have pointed out, these same “hunters” already have the ability go out on the very same lands and “harvest” the very same animals for commercial purposes outside of the derby. There is no need to hold a publicly-sanctioned killing contest in order for them to gain utility. Therefore, the derby must have another purpose. The purpose, of course, is obvious–to make a contest out of killing (or killing for self-gratification).
Elk, Logan, or someone else will claim that the fact that the same animals can already be killed by the same people on the same lands in the same fashion suggests there isn’t anything illegitimate about the contest. I would argue that one can only come to that conclusion by examining the purpose of the contest. Lots of things that are legal are not considered ethical (this being a great example). The question is: should public agencies that manage public resources be explicitly condoning an activity (killing contest) that most of society views as detestable and unethical?
sorry, should read:
“Lots of things that are legal are considered unethical.”
“2. …but some no doubt shot, esepecially coyotes for only their tails).”
Aside from the species and a couple centuries, how different is this than scalping?
Management by popularity contest on every matter, regardless of how inconsistent the outcomes are, may work against wise management. Also about condoning: Just cause I permit certain types of hate speech does not mean I condone it.
What you’re suggesting is that the ‘tyranny of the majority’ isn’t necessarily the best way to manage resources. I agree. However, what we have now is the tyranny of a minority — a minority that has yet to provide a good reason–a need for this type of activity. In any case, I’m not suggesting that we hold a vote on every wildlife management issue; rather, I’m suggesting that when a group of people seeks to kill sentient animals that the burden of proof should fall on them — they should have to explain why such action is warranted.
“Just cause I permit certain types of hate speech does not mean I condone it.”
That’s an interesting analogy. We begrudging allow hate speech because we recognize an important risk to our fundamental freedoms, and this freedom (of speech) is believed to be so fundamental to our democracy that we’ve enshrined it in our Constitution. We have no reason to begrudgingly tolerate/permit resource management actions that cannot be adequately justified.
The problem here is what one might call “the population rule” of wildlife management. That is this: A wildlife management action (or activity) is justified if there is no apparent risk to the population. This rule suggests the only meaningful measure of right or wrong is the impact on a population, and it is a rule that I suspect most people would object to.
“What you’re suggesting is that the ‘tyranny of the majority’ isn’t necessarily the best way to manage resources. I agree. However, what we have now is the tyranny of a minority — a minority that has yet to provide a good reason–a need for this type of activity. In any case, I’m not suggesting that we hold a vote on every wildlife management issue; rather, I’m suggesting that when a group of people seeks to kill sentient animals that the burden of proof should fall on them — they should have to explain why such action is warranted. ”
Something that is costantly touted by commenters on this site is the fact that there are only 18 million hunters in the USA. That means that hunters are the minority so I fail to see how the first part of your comment is applicable.
Your second statement about the burden of proof is more legitamate. However, when the only reason that the anti-derby crowd can come up with is “because we don’t like it” why should the pro-derby crowd provide any better response than “because we want to”.
“..hunters are the minority so I fail to see how the first part of your comment is applicable.”
It is applicable because Rork pointed out that “management by popularity contest” (an apparent alternative to the tyranny of the minority) was less than ideal. I was merely agreeing.
“…when the only reason that the anti-derby crowd can come up with is “because we don’t like it” why should the pro-derby crowd provide any better response than “because we want to”.”
If that were the only reason to ban killing contests, then your response would have some validity; however, it isn’t the only reason. Your suggestion is that the community of those who oppose wildlife killing contests justify their opposition based upon their own interests. That simply isn’t the case. Rather, they justify their opposition based upon the animals’ interests. The logic is actually quite simple.
Using the ethical principle articulated by the “North American Model of Wildlife Management”, wildlife should “only be killed for a legitimate purpose”. This puts the burden of proof on those who wish to engage in a particular activity, though it isn’t of much use for helping us determine legitimacy. Still, it tells us where the burden of proof lies–and that is important. The problem for derby advocates is that the statements used to justify such derbies (no impact to the population) along with research suggesting that arbitrary removals of predators don’t reduce depredations (and may actually increase them) undercut the legitimacy of these actions. Essentially, they are forced to say that they should get to kill predators because they want to kill predators. I don’t know of anyone who would accept this as a valid ethical premise (that is, the idea that because I CAN or WANT TO do something that the action is justified).
Living in northern MN, I have two pair of moose hide mukluks, moose hide mitts, a beaver hat, fur over thick fleece, and a scrap coyote ruff on a canvas anorak. I’m fully aware of the benefit of fur and hide. There, I said it.
However, if I did not live where I do, or do the type of activities in which I am involved, there would be absolutely no reason for them. They certainly are not fashion statements. And as Nancy said, how many of these dead predators go toward that type of utilitarian gear?
BIG +1 Immer.
++Let’s bring in all the hunters, concentrate them in ascertain area and have a deer/elk/moose derby. See how many can be killed and prizes given to the biggest and most?++
That would be illegal in Montana. No big buck contest, no longest pheasant tail feather the only big game completive award allow is the Boone and Crocket Club, Pope and Young and SCI which does not offer prizes only a place in the record books. Predator and gopher contest are allowed.
“Shit, I’m fully aware of that. I was digging deep into dark sarcasm. Then again, the elk, deer and moose are the “good” animals. More sarcasm.
In the late fifties and very early sixties in Billing, Montana Al’s Bootery sold Redwing boots among other footwear. Every year they had the longest pheasant tail contest, the hunter who brought in the longest pheasant tail that hunting season won a pair of Redwing boots. I can remember the pheasant tails in the front window. My understanding was since pheasants are a game bird a new law was past stopping the longest pheasant tail contest. I never saw any harm in it.
I understand your point. Perhaps I’m wrong in assumption, but were most of those pheasants (to the best of my knowledge, not indigenous to N America)eaten?
The argument about eating every animal you kill is ridiculous. Some animals are killed for meat others are killed for fur. Each provides a resource in its own way. Most deer and elk hunters do not use the hide from those animals. Some might trade it at the loacl recycling center for a pair of gloves but very few do any tanning or leatherwork. Should they stop meat hunting because they don’t make use of the hide? I think the same applies to furbearers.
The argument can be made that eating, in particular with the inflated number of deer, elk, etc does have an iron in the fire in regard to which the common man/woman can relate in their daily life, and that is food which is necessary for survival.
Fur, on the other hand, is an extravagance that the common person does not require for survival. I submit it is both morally and ethically bankrupt to look at an animal as a ‘resource’ for the purpose of killing it for its fur.
Up here, there are boxes scattered throughout town for deer hides.
“The argument about eating every animal you kill is ridiculous.”
If that were the sole argument, I would agree with you– but it isn’t. The argument is that animals should not be killed for frivolous purposes. It is nearly universally agreed that the need for sustenance is not a frivolous purpose; however, the desire to obtain a trophy acquire a relatively small about of money for the sale of fur may be frivolous, though context matters.
“I simply do not see why it is so abhorrable to allow hunting of predators in the current environment of regulated hunting and population monitoring.”
I think that statement is central in the dichotomy of the pro/anti predator hunting issue. It could also be applied to any sport/trophy hunting.
For whatever reason, you and others see killing an animal for entertainment, sport/trophy as normal. If not normal, then acceptable. Maybe I’m wrong, but that is what I got out of your statement. Me, and a growing number of people, see predator hunting, sport/trophy hunting as ending a life of a sentient being. We see that animal as a life that has value, not monetary, but value for simply being what it is. For me, the taking of a life, any life, should never be done without a just reason. That leads us back to another potential division. How do we define just? Is killing a sentient being for fun, for sport, or in a contest that is meant as entertainment a just reason? Apparently, our federal and state laws say that is a just reason to kill.
“Is killing a sentient being for fun, for sport, or in a contest that is meant as entertainment a just reason? Apparently, our federal and state laws say that is a just reason to kill”
And it will continue to be until the “sentient” beings, in our species, get off our butts and address it……
You are exactly correct. There are two opinions at work here one that views predator hunting and contests as acceptable and one that does not. My point is that neither position should be viewed as superior to the other or exercise force over the other.
Even if it is only a minority of people who supported this derby, shouldn’t their right to assemble for the contest be protected? In my opinion, the derby BLM permit should only have been denied if the activity would infringe on the rights of other users which it does not.
“My point is that neither position should be viewed as superior to the other or exercise force over the other”
But you’re forgetting Logan…. Animals are losing their lives so this little “contest” can take place. Kind of reminds me of the KKK, expecting to gather in areas where most humans find their presence/agenda disgusting.
The Idaho derby is an abomination because it is a sadistic sick ritual set up to satisfy the whims of those who don’t even know what a predator is.Those that use traps do do because they enjoy watching as one of God’s creatures die slowly in agony. Whenever events such as this occur…psychiatrists always mention that the reason it is done would take a psychological evaluation to determine where the human flaw comes from.Teaching the very young that killing is okay is just a motion in grooming a future serial killer.
I am beyond thrilled with happiness to hear this good news! As Amy Atwood stated, “These sort of ruthless kill-fests have no place in this century. We intend to pursue every available remedy to stop these horrible contests.” Idaho has become a very barbaric state, no longer safe for small children, pets or animals..they’ve gone crazy, beginning with their Governor.
Seems to me the point here is that the BLM was explicitly or at least implicitly condoning an activity that most of the Americans who own the land, would find repulsive. Could someone organize a fiddling contest where contestants would enter for awards, then travel to BLM land to fiddle around? Would that require a permit? I suspect it would but would be interesting to get the opinion of the BLM and the NFS.
The blm doesn’t need to condone the activity to allow the permit. The BLM is mandated to manage the land for multiple use. Their only responsibility in the case of this derby would be to ensure that the derby itself would not negatively impact the ability of the land to continue providing for its other uses. It is not their mandate to interpret personal ethics.
As it has now unfolded, it looks like the BLM’s mandate to “manage the land for multiple use” does NOT include predator killing contests. One small step for mankind.
No it just means that BLM didn’t want to get dragged into a pointless lawsuit.
When did they adopt this policy?
LOL! I think there are several lawsuits lined up like dominoes, aren’t they? Wild horses, logging, etc.
Make no mistake Logan, the purpose of the BLM and the federal government is to work for US, the American TAX-PAYING public. Allowing an infinitesimal minority of stakeholders to recreate in a way that the general majority finds to be both wasteful and morally reprehensible (per the public comment period) is incompatible with the tenants of democracy. If the BLM is going to ignore the general public for a special interest group, then filing this “pointless” lawsuit is in fact how everyone against the derby gets their say in the process.
Democracy has flaws, and needs adjustments to insure against tyranny of the majority. We have done that via constitutional protections. I recommend Tocqueville.
I’m a big fan of Mill and he does reference Tocqueville’s ideas in my copy of “On Liberty”. I think we do require protections against tyranny of the majority when it applies to one’s rights and personal property, but I would argue the game changes when the resource is under public ownership.
Our government was designed to uphold the will of majority but protect the rights of minority. You are arguing that the rights of the minority be damned.
Make no mistake Professor, hunters are tax-paying citizens. And the “infinitesimal minority” is in fact the local majority who use and recreate in those lands far more than the vocal activists who have ganged up on Idaho from the far reaches of the country and have never set foot on those lands.
“Make no mistake Professor, hunters are tax-paying citizens”
Looking over my property taxes, I pay for the upkeep of 7 cemeteries in the area even though I won’t be laid to rest in any of them. I support state and district schools thru taxes even though I have no children.
My federal taxes support agencies who run the BLM and public lands in Idaho (even though I’ll never set foot over there as long as they mis-manage predators)
So what’s your point?
++My federal taxes support agencies who run the BLM and public lands in Idaho (even though I’ll never set foot over there as long as they mis-manage predators)++
Idaho has a wolf hunting and a trapping season and coyotes are year round. Montana has wolf hunting and a trapping season and coyotes are year round. What is the difference? Maybe Montana is a little kinder.
You will not step a foot into Idaho but elect to live in Montana!
Montana doesn’t have a Butch Otter 🙂
++..doesn’t have a Butch Otter++
But, Montana does have a Senator Jon Tester.
Montana has Toby Bridges. Me thinkin the reason is that you own a home and have life in your community and it is easier to accuse the neighbors across the street than those who live on either side of you.
How about instead of “the rights of the minority be damned” we compromise and follow the NAM? If the minority wants to use public resources for its own benefit, it should provide a very good reason why. If the minority wants to kill animals for its own benefit, it should provide a very good reason why. Lacking good reasons for an activity that results in (a) the privatization of a public resource and (b) the killing of a sentient animal, I would prefer our government not condone such activities.
I’m not seeing any rights being taken away here by a permit denial. This is a special use permit for public land that is under contention. Organizers and contestants still have every right to hold the contest on private land and I believe FS land as well.
I am both a hunter and tax-paying citizen as well. I don’t consider a contest like this to be an ethical hunt, or useful that matter. I am against it taking place on federal land. I don’t believe proximity to the land determines how much say one has in how it is used. The same portion of my taxes goes towards their management.
Are you one who is for state transfer of federal land?
To my knowledge there has been no “permit denial” by BLM. It is just a rescission of the one previously issued, which is predicated on what appears to be a moving target, as BLM can’t seem to get enough firm information on the specifics of the event as of Nov. 20, since the sponsors have changed some particulars, possibly because of the pending litigation. That is problematic. They could still issue a permit, but the litigation would resume (still don’t know what status the second suit by WildEarth Guardians et al. has at this point).
Please elaborate on why you think contestants still have a right to hunt on FS land, but apparently not BLM? Shouldn’t the agencies, as land managers of similar responsibilities come out pretty close to the same position?
If your comment was to me, I do NOT support transfer of federal land to states, in fact I am strongly opposed.
“Our government was designed to uphold the will of majority but protect the rights of minority. You are arguing that the rights of the minority be damned.”
I guess it’s a matter of how one looks at it, the rights of many minorities, some newly to recently won, with the rise if the American Taliban Party, are now in jeapordy.
You make some pretty strong assumptions about for whom the federal government works/exists….” incompatible with the tenants of democracy”
BLM does not operate off general public sentiment. It operates within a framework of federal laws which give it certain authority AND no more authority than is given it by Congress (in effect the states).
ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
ONE AND ONE MORE AND ONE MORE
WE HAVE WON A BATTLE TODAY…
IT IS ONLY ONE BATTLE ANd NOT THE WAR.
WE WILL BE HERE FOR THE LONG STAND AGAINST
THE ANNIHILATION OF WOLVES AND COYOTES.
You will not destroy our ecosystem with your hate.
I STAND FOR WOLVES AND COYOTES…..
I am still confused by this decision. The press release from the plaintiffs uses the terms “withdraw” and “cancel” in regard to the BLM permit. Is there a distinction with a difference? And, has BLM made any kind of announcement on what its decision really means?
I also notice several links at the very bottom of this blog which suggest the event itself has been “Cancelled.” Is this accurate?
I am new to this country and trying to learn about things, and I am very confused. If they said you have no permit for this contest, but the same hunters can go into the same area and hunt the same animals. How has anything changed?
Well, they needed the permit for a reason. Now it has been withdrawn. Was it to assemble in a group on public lands? They can still hunt individually or in smaller groups.
Ugh, just writing that sentence puts me in mind of a B horror film – zombies or something. I saw a photo of the young daughter of the Whites who was standing over a dead cougar she shot, holding a rifle, with dark circles under her eyes, she did resemble a zombie.
In reality, the same “hunters” (using that term loosely) can hunt the same animals on BLM lands without a permit (the permit was for the contest). The point of plaintiffs’ intervention–as I understand it–wasn’t so much to stop this particular event, but rather, to force the BLM/FS to think twice about such actions in the future. It might succeed in that regard, though I doubt it will make any difference for very many predators.
From the story in the Idaho Statesman
“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.”
Interesting piece Nancy.
Some more info:
BLM Reverses Decision, Says No To Idaho Wolf Derby Permit
Steve Alder, the head event organizer for Idaho for Wildlife, the group that sponsors the hunting competition, said it would be a “miracle” if anyone shot a wolf, which are notoriously hard to hunt. He says the January derby will go forward on private land.
Alder said that derby participants will be required to sign a waiver saying any animals taken on public land won’t qualify for the derby. He said Idaho for Wildlife started the application process early, as BLM advised them to. He blamed the BLM’s D.C. office for getting the permit revoked, and said the group would “push for more legislative oversight of this out-of-control agency that is now caving to the radical anti-hunters.” -Times News
Signing a waiver??????
“radical anti hunters”
I wonder if this Alder clown reads his own press?
The presumption is that only 10 out of 56,000 signatures have any true validity.
To these guys, anybody who opposes their barbaric practices is an eco terrorist.
And it seems that to you anyone who supports it is a backwards, inbred redneck. The name calling goes both ways and no one holds the moral high ground in that respect.
What’s different today is that our population keeps growing (is this a mantra with me, I’m always repeating it), but wildlife and habitat are becoming very pressured and much less than they once were. What was acceptable practice decades ago no longer applies in the modern world.
If we were to supply fur to everyone who wanted it, our native wildlife would disappear rapidly. I disagree that faux fur is harmful to the environment, and isn’t as warm as natural fur. Most people won’t be going to the Arctic Circle.
You are so correct in pointing out that there are so many people now, we simply cannot behave like we’re in the “good ol’ days” anymore. If most adults in the U.S. ate wild game for food or dressed in wild fur, guess what? Within one year, every deer, elk, bear, moose, bison, wolf, bobcat, coyote etc. in America would be gone.
Many supporters have several misconceptions about the Public Trust Doctrine and what it says about natural resources–and what the very definition of a resource is.
First, I’ll address Elk375’s statement, “Does my action of legally killing a prey animal that you wanted to photograph infringe on your rights because you can no longer use it for your benefit as a photographer[?]” In short, yes, yes it does. In the Supreme Court case, Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992), Justice Scalia–an originalist and textualist appointed by President Reagan–stated that “the desire to use or observe an animal species, even for purely aesthetic purposes, is undeniably a cognizable interest. . . .” The case was not speaking about the issue here, but it shows that the use of an animal for photography is not some non-existent hippy fiction. The Supreme Court recognizes that “use” is more than just hunting or trapping an animal.
By the way, a natural resource is not defined by the way it is or is not being used. Furthermore, neither is the value of a resource determined solely by the way it can be used for human consumption. This non consumptive form of valuation is called “existence value.” Courts have said that “[t]he police power is not to be limited to guarding merely the physical or material interest of the citizen,” Barret v. New York, 116 N.E. 99, 101 (1917).
Moving to another point, “our” does include hunters. But you are wrong about the implication of hunters being among the beneficiaries for whom wildlife is held in trust for the public. The Public Trust Doctrine is based on the central tenet that natural resources are held in trust for the benefit of present and future generations.
As a perpetual trust, only the “interest” may be distributed to present beneficiaries; the “corpus” may not be invaded. For example, if a property held in trust for the benefit of you and your children, as co-beneficiaries, and is to be rented out, you are entitled to receive the rent money (minus the amount needed for basic upkeep). However, you are not entitled to sell off the property because to do so would be to infringe upon the rights of your children to benefit from the property that is held in trust.
Scientists–not bloggers from the site Idaho for Wildlife, but real scientists–warn that extirpating carnivore populations can have significant deleterious effects on ecosystems.
I know that many will probably say that that’s a YouTube video, not a scientific paper. But the facts from that video are a summary of research on the effects wolves had on the Yellowstone ecosystem. Extirpating wolves obviously has effects on even the land, rivers, and other wildlife within its ecosystem. There’s the proof that killing wolves would negatively impact my ability to enjoy the land. If the ecosystem is destroyed, your ability to enjoy the land would also be negatively impacted.
The Public Trust Doctrine does not say that only deer and elk are held in trust for the benefit of citizens, both hunters and non-hunters; it makes no distinction between carnivores and prey species that are desirable for human consumption.
Even so, the underlying standard of the Public Trust Doctrine is that there must be no “significant impairment,” which means that the resource may not be consumed to the point that it may not provide the same benefit to future generations. Essentially, an argument claiming hypocrisy in the conservationist view that elk hunting is permissible, while wolf hunting in Idaho is not, overlooks the fact that elk populations are not being suppressed to the verge of extirpation in Idaho. Wolves, on the other hand, are far from recovered, and mismanagement could result in population disaster again.
I should also address the argument that wolves are decimating elk populations in Idaho. IDFG conducted a study in 2010, which showed that, of the 29 elk management zones, 10 were above objectives for female elk populations, 13 were meeting objectives, and 6 were below objective. (Find it at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/fgNews/2010aug.pdf)
The objective female breeding elk survival rate set by IDFG is 88%, a number that they say is necessary to maintain populations. An IDFG study that year on the effects of wolves on elk in Idaho showed that wolves were not killing all the elk in Idaho, as many citizens and hunters believe.
Wolves, by themselves, were the known primary cause of death in the Lolo (20% of the 23% mortality), Sawtooth (4% of the 9% mortality), and Smoky Mountains (5% of the 12% mortality) regions. Notice, however, that of those three, only the Lolo and Smoky Mountains regions were below objective.
Hunters and average citizens are quick to blame wolves for any and all elk problems without examining human effects on elk. What’s not being talked about is the fact that hunters were the overwhelming cause of death in the Island Park (17% of the 18% mortality), Tex Creek (8% of the 9% mortality), Pioneer (6% of the 10% mortality), Boise River (5% of the 8% mortality), Weiser (all 8%) and McCall (all 6%) regions. It seems as though IDFG continues to bend to the misinformed public hate for wolves, killing without regard for its own studies.
It is also important to note that objectives for population sizes are based on what is desirable, and not necessarily based on ecological considerations about what size is best for the region. Scott Creel, biologist at Montana State University and an elk expert, says that elk populations in Idaho may actually be acting as they did before wolves were extirpated.
Earlier this year, IDFG reported that poachers likely take approximately 600 elk, 80 moose, 260 mule deer, and 1,000 whitetail annually. The Department estimates that the detection rate is only five percent. IDFG District Conservation Officer George Fischer says that poachers kill more big game than wolves.
Therefore, you can’t justify a wolf-killing contest on the grounds that elk populations need to be protected for the benefit of Idahoans.
Also, you’re overlooking the fact that a wolf-killing contest directly jeopardizes wolves, which, as I said before, are also included in the corpus of the Public Trust. Even by the most lenient scientific studies, wolf populations–at the minimal size currently found in the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment–are very unlikely to sustain a viable wolf population. Therefore, indiscriminately killing wolves violates the “precautionary principle” of the Public Trust Doctrine, which says that where there is doubt about the negative effects that an action will have on the trust assets, the action may not be taken. Although BLM, the trustee, will not itself be killing wolves, the duties of a trustee include the affirmative duty to prevent injury to the trust.
Thank you for sharing these important facts. Reads like a cause for action in court. Not being an Attorney, I am not aware of the proper terminology.
Thank you so much for “sending us to school”. Please do not go too far from this site.
Interesting take on the “wildlife public trust.”
And here I thought the Lujan case was about standing to sue and real injury. Perhaps you take a liberty with interpretation of the quote you cite.
Let’s get down to the concept of public trust of wildlife, because that seems where you are going. The State (actually 47 have made such assertions) is the trustee/manager of the wildlife trust, and acting thru its legislature and executive branch (including the wildlife agency, in this instance IDFG). It is each state who manages their trust, arguably for the citizens of their state. So, input from those outside the state might be considered in proper context as to their “right to manage” the trust.
Just to give a little more contemporary background on the “wildlife public trust” here is a recent law review article tracing its origin, and importantly the role of states in managing wildlife within their boundaries.
(click on the Download button at the top for the full paper in PDF)
And, before somebody goes off on Kleppe v. NM (see footnote 13 for cite), which says the federal government can manage wildlife on federal lands, note that the key distinction is a SPECIFIC STATUTE passed by Congress that gets them into that role. In that instance it is the Wild Horse and Burros Act, for those two species only.
Of course, wolves which are not on the ESA list are managed by states. Six state managers (five if WY is subtracted), and two more waiting for sufficient wolf population (OR and WA). The federal government and the states have agreed on what constitutes the “corpus” of the wildlife trust for wolves, to bring a practical aspect to the topic. These requirements are stated in their federally approved management plans. You/we can disagree on whether that is viable, but federal and respective state laws seems to say it is.
So where is the violation of the “public wildlife trust,” Rance? By the way, BLM is NOT the wildlife trustee in ID or anywhere else, unless you can point me to any federal statute or case law contra to my assertion.
The ‘short’ answer to the apparent tension you raise between state and federal authority is that it comes from the improper (in my view) and implicit conflation of hunting and wildlife management. Hunting is a recreational activity. It is well within the scope of BLM/FS/FWS authority to manage outdoor recreation (some would argue that given restrictions on harvest, this is now their principle role). In any case, restriction of certain types of recreational activities involving wildlife does not in any way infringe on the states duties or rights to manage wildlife populations. In fact, since the predominant argument in support of these particular activities is that they will have no effect on predator populations, states abilities to manage wildlife aren’t impacted at all.
Lujan is about Constitutional standing, which is why I said the case doesn’t directly apply to this issue. But my point was that it is false to assert that preservation of wildlife for aesthetic reasons is wasteful or fictitious. I wanted to show that if the issue at bar was simply an injury to a photographer’s interest in snapping pictures of wolves, there is still a cognizable injury. So you are correct about the issue in that case, but you are missing the big picture.
There is no “wildlife public trust.” I’m not arguing for a separate public trust just for wildlife. Wildlife is included in the corpus of the Public Trust as a natural resource collectively owned by the people but managed by the government.
In case you’re confused with my use of the term “owned by the people,” I’m referring to ownership in much the same way that a shareholder owns part of a company, like Nike. In that case, a shareholder is a partial owner of Nike, but that doesn’t mean that the shareholder is entitled to take one pair of shows because she owns one share of the company. Ownership as a shareholder or beneficiary of the Public Trust is a form of collective ownership; each person has an undivided interest.
Let me explain to you the origins of the Public Trust Doctrine. It was first codified in ancient Roman law (see the Institutes of Justinian, Book II, “Divisions of Things). It is based on the very purpose of a Democratic government whereby the sovereign gains its authority to govern by the consent of the people. Democratic government is a recognition of the fact that a body representing the will of the people can collectively manage and protect the resources more effectively than any one person can protect his or her property.
Now, forests, rivers, lands below navigable waters, and wildlife have been entrusted to the government to manage as trustee for the benefit of the whole people. Think about it. Why should the state government be the sole trustee over natural resources? Does the Federal government not also derive its authority from the consent of the people? Of course it does. Perhaps you’re thinking of PPL Montana v. Montana, the Supreme Court case that incorrectly called the Public Trust strictly a doctrine of state law in the dicta of the case; dicta is not binding precedent.
The lodestar Public Trust Doctrine case is Illinois Central Railroad, in which the Supreme Court cemented the existence of PTD in American law.
To say that PTD applies only to state governments is to evidence your fundamental misunderstanding of the basis of the doctrine. It is an inherent attribute of sovereignty; it is a limit on the government’s ability to exploit resources at every level of government.
That’s besides the point. This permit issue was not a matter of the Federal government infringing upon Idaho’s right to manage wildlife. Idaho undeniably has the right to manage wildlife within its borders. However, this permit was to allow a killing contest on BLM lands. BLM is a Federal agency.
BLM is a federal trustee. Do know what NEPA is? The permitting decision was in fact a result of BLM’s Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) after completing an Environmental Assessment (EA). The Act is a statutory delegation of PTD duties imposed on the Federal government and Federal agencies. It only applies to Federal agencies; it applied here because of the fact that it was the duty of BLM to oversee the actions that it allows on its lands.
One of the main goals of NEPA, as expressed in the statute itself, is “to fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 4331(b)(1). That sounds to me like Congress was saying that Federal agencies are also subject to the fiduciary duties imposed by the Public Trust Doctrine. I know that NEPA doesn’t really grant enforceable trust duties, but you can’t deny that the intent was to prompt agencies–which are agents of the Executive, a position undeniably subject to the Public Trust–to consider the trust effects of their actions.
Yes, BLM manages public lands on the basis of multiple-use and sustained-yield, according to FLPMA. But look at the text of the statute itself, which does charge BLM with acting in accordance with PTD. Just because BLM favors economic over non-economic uses does not mean that it is not subject to PTD. Legal scholars refer to PTD as “the law’s DNA,” which is a nice way of saying that it is present in every form of government like the DNA of an organism. It can’t be abrogated.
Even if wolves are not protected in Idaho under the ESA, the issue of a negative effect on the resources of the Public Trust is not alleviated. The question is whether trust resources will be substantially impaired, not whether an act violates a federal statute. The Trust does not exist because Congress recognizes it. The decision to delist is largely a political one. Remember how wolves in the NRM DPS got delisted in 2011? Tester (D-Mont.) and Simpson (R-Idaho) snuck the rider into the budget that absolutely had to be passed in order to avoid government shutdown. That’s not science; that’s not fulfillment of PTD duties. So don’t argue that the duties of the Public Trust weren’t violated simply because the ESA no longer protects wolves in Idaho. The fact remains that even 650 wolves–and definitely only 150 wolves–cannot sustain a wolf population, so destroying the wolves would violate the public right to that wildlife, and, as was shown in the YouTube video I posted, could destroy the very ecosystems in which those wolves exist.
So the state’s right to manage wildlife within its borders on its own land does not relieve the Federal government of its obligation to make sure that the third-party actions that it allows on public lands do not harm the trust assets.
Once again, thank you for setting the record (and us) straight.
The dialog is not over. And, contrary to Rance’s assertions, the BLM and FS mostly manage vegetation on the lands for which they are responsible, except as expressly directed by Congress (eg. the horse/burro thing, ESA or migratory birds, and a few others). And, NEPA is a process. It doesn’t mean a federal agency can’t do stupid things. It only means they have to go thru a process which documents the making of a federal decision significantly effecting the quality of the human environment (simple paraphrasing here).
yes, even after a NEPA analysis stupid things can be done but the legal complaints argued that the process was ignored. This is one of the points Rance is making and one that you argued earlier was not relevant or did not pertain in this instance. if I understood you correctly.
You wrote, “contrary to Rance’s assertions, the BLM and FS mostly manage vegetation on the lands for which they are responsible…” I think you missed many other subjects that the BLM is responsible for managing – domestic livestock grazing, oil/gas drilling, mining and access to recreation like bicycling, ATVs, rock-climbing, boating, horse back-riding, hiking, etc… and importantly the BLM could, if they chose to do so, control access to recreational hunting and fishing and they would be well within their mandate. It is a choice the BLM (and Forest Service) does not take often, but I think in certain circumstances the Feds should step in to manage hunters on BLM (and Forest Service) lands. For Example; The National Forests surrounding Yellowstone NP should be off limits to wolf and bison hunting no matter what the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming want.
Of course I am very much aware of the other activities, and you did get the part about “mostly.” If you look at the respective organic acts of BLM and FS I think you will still come away with the general idea that they manage vegetation on the land, and the disturbance of that vegetation (that is the typical avenue to wildlife management they typically become involved in). If you think about it most of the other access recreational aspects you list it is vegetation disturbance that might impact water or maybe even cause wind erosion.. Sorry I wasn’t clearer, but we have discussed that aspect before here recently. And before you go nutzo, just think about public lands grazing – it is mostly a vegetation management issue – how many cows/sheep for how long and where, or where not. Even the BLM wild horse/burro issue centers on vegetation management.
very nicely done! especially your conclusion that the state is not the only entity under an obligation to act as a responsible steward for wildlife.
” Why should the state government be the sole trustee over natural resources? Does the Federal government not also derive its authority from the consent of the people? Of course it does. Perhaps you’re thinking of PPL Montana v. Montana, the Supreme Court case that incorrectly called the Public Trust strictly a doctrine of state law in the dicta of the case; dicta is not binding precedent.”
I believe that because states do not act as responsible stewards for wildlife under the obligation to protect public trust resources and because they practice speciesism and do not embrace protections for carnivores or promote biologically diverse wildlife management practices that wildlife management more appropiately belongs within the purview of the federal government. If so, a larger pool of constituents and legislators might afford stronger protections that would be safer from regional bias and local self serving political interference.
Of course the Tester rider works both for and against that idea. But by and large the vast majority of public lands are contained in hostile to carnivore states like Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Alaska. and by and large when asked to comment in public solicitations, the public speaks against anti predator actions.
The predator vicious policies in these states illustrate that the states ignore their duties as trustees and violate humane, ethical and scientific considerations and principles that ought to be employed in the year 2014.
Therefore, indiscriminately killing wolves violates the “precautionary principle” of the Public Trust Doctrine, which says that where there is doubt about the negative effects that an action will have on the trust assets, the action may not be taken.
How are they getting around this? Thank you for such a great post.
The Public Trust Doctrine has a rich history in the United States. It has been somewhat forgotten in the past few decades because of the rise of statutory environmental law. NEPA, CAA, CWA, National Park Service Organic Act, CERCLA, the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act, and the Wilderness Act were all enacted around the time that the environmental movement was really taking off.
The text of those statutes clearly shows a congressional intent to codify the Public Trust Doctrine.
NEPA: the goal is to “fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 4331(b)(1)
The Wilderness Act: purpose is to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” 16 U.S.C. §1131(a)
CERCLA: natural resources are defined as “land, fish, wildlife, biota, air, water, groundwater . . . held in trust by . . . the United States . . . and State or local government.” 42 U.S.C. § 9601(16)
National Park Service Organic Act: the purpose is to “conserve the . . . wildlife . . . and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” 16 U.S.C. § 1. “The protection, management, and administration of these areas . . . shall not be exercise in derogation of the values and purposes for which these various areas have been established. . . .” 16 U.S.C. § 1a-1.
Kleppe v. New Mexico, as WM pointed out, did concern the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. But that statute was a codification of the Federal government’s public trust duties and authority over wildlife. That case was decided two years prior to the enactment of the Endangered Species Act, which codified the Federal government’s paramount authority to protect all wildlife within the United States that is at risk of extinction. So the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was specific to those animals, but it seems ridiculous that Congress thought only those animals were subject to the Public Trust. It is merely an example of the Supreme Court’s recognition that Congress has the duty and the power to protect wildlife under the Public Trust Doctrine.
Like I said before, PTD does not exist merely when a legislature says that it exists. Here are a few examples:
In re Water Use Permit Applications, 9 P.3d 409, 444 (2000), a Hawaiian Supreme Court case, said, “Other state courts, without the benefit of such constitutional provisions, have decided that the public trust doctrine exists independently of any statutory protections supplied by the legislature.”
National Audubon Soc’y v. Superior Ct. of Alpine City, 658 P.2d 709, 728 n. 27. “Aside from the possibility that statutory protections can be repealed, the non codified public trust doctrine remains important both to confirm the state’s sovereign supervision and to require consideration of public trust uses. . . . .”
Kootenai Envtl. Alliance v. Panhandle Yacht Club, Inc., 671 P.2d 1085, 1095. “Mere compliance by [agencies] with their legislative authority is not sufficient to determine if their actions comport with the requirements of the public trust doctrine. The public trust doctrine at all times forms the outer boundaries of permissible government action with respect to the public trust resources.”
So there is substantial case law that shows the existence of PTD whether or not statutes exist, and regardless of whether a statute allows an action that will harm the trust resources.
However, the environmental statues that I mentioned were intended to codify the duties of PTD. Congress, at the time, likely thought that by codifying the trust duties, succeeding legislatures and agency officials would find it easier to remember and comport with trust obligations. However, bureaucrats and politicians of late seem to have forgotten the public trust doctrine, and act as if it does not exist, or that it only exists where it is convenient for the government to say it exists.
We don’t hear about PTD much anymore because it has been forgotten by both the public and the government. But that doesn’t mean that it no longer exists. It remains an inherent attribute of sovereignty as a symbol of the government’s paramount obligation to the people of the United States.
Responding to your two posts. First, I am very familiar with the PTD and read the seminal Joseph Sax law review article in 1970, shortly after it came out, even though I didn’t understand it that well, back then.
I understand your view of ++Wildlife as ..included in the corpus of the Public Trust as a natural resource collectively owned by the people but managed by the government.”
The question is which government(s) have these duties under our system of government. Using your analogy of a corporation the boards of directors/CEO are either Congress/President or state legislatures/governors, and their respective staffs. Individual shareholders have a vote (the people have a vote), but they don’t make policy or law. That is an important distinction.
I have been a student, though not a diligent one, of the evolving doctrine for close to 40 years now. I am also very familiar with NEPA, having written and reviews quite a few Environmental Impact Statements and Assessments beginning with some of the very first shortly after the NEPA process was implemented. Of course some states followed with their own, modeling off the federal law.
I suspect you know, goals in statutes are not enforceable provisions. They merely provide context for the ones which are. So, I don’t think the federal PTD however broad you seem to think it applies, has ever gotten much traction. And, in fact, there is evidence to the contrary. If you look at FLPMA, the organic acts of the FS, statutes creating specific Wilderness areas and a bunch of others, those statutes specifically defer to states roles in wildlife management. NPS and national parks and FWS refuges are specific types of reservations which give by statute specific authority to those agencies authority over wildlife while on those carefully described geographic tracts of federal land.
On the other hand, state public trust duties toward wildlife are sometimes pretty well referenced, sometimes even clearly and unequivocably, in state constitutions and statutes, or inferred from carefully worded judicial decisions. I think I linked you to a fairly recent law review/primer on state public trust in wildlife matters in an earlier post of mine by Michael Blumm at Lewis & Clark Law School. Here is another, which came out about the same as Professor Blumm’s, but from a UC Davis Symposium on the topic (another Blumm paper is mentioned in there):
And, here is another:
Horner, S.M. 2000. Embryo, not fossil: breathing life into the public trust in wildlife. 35 Land and Water L. Rev. 23. University of Wyoming.
Author Horner, above, after tracing some of the same ground as you do, seems to think enabling legislation is required to get the feds into a public trust wildlife role. On that point, she and I agree.
I am intrigued by this statement of yours:
++However, the environmental statues that I mentioned were intended to codify the duties of PTD.++
Do you have verifiable authority for this statement, other than a hodgepodge of lofty statements in statutory goals?
“Author Horner, above, after tracing some of the same ground as you do, seems to think enabling legislation is required to get the feds into a public trust wildlife role. On that point, she and I agree.”
or a Federal statute that would override state statutes.
I need to clarify a few things that said about my previous statements. It may be that I didn’t put enough detail into my post, or perhaps you didn’t fully read what I wrote.
I wasn’t likening the Public Trust Doctrine to a corporate structure. I was using the shareholder analogy to convey the type of ownership involved in PTD: beneficiaries have an equal but undivided share in natural resources. Take a river, for example. In Illinois Central, the issue related to alienation of the shores of Lake Michigan. That shoreline is collectively “owned” by the public, but held in trust by the government. It would be crazy to try to give each person a sliver of the shoreline; the entire shoreline is collectively held in trust to benefit present and future generations.
My corporate analogy was not to say that each person has a shareholder vote. If you are familiar with a private trust, you know that the fiduciary duties imposed upon the trustee are not subject to the instantaneous desires of the beneficiary, especially in a perpetual trust with co-beneficiaries, some of which will not be born for years.
It is also important to note that the duties are those “of a trustee and not simply the duties of a good business manager.” Kadish v. Arizona State Land Dep’t, 747 P.2d 1183, 1186 (1987). Furthermore, you are correct that beneficiaries do not get voting power to craft law or policy. However, going back to the FLPMA argument that the Act mandates “multiple-use and sustained-yield,” which has been interpreted to favor economic over non-economic uses, statutes and agencies “do not override the public trust doctrine or render it superfluous. . . . Even with the enactment and future development of the [statute], the doctrine continues to inform the [statute’s] interpretation, define its permissible ‘outer limits,’ and justify its existence. To this end, although we regard the public trust and the [statute] as sharing similar core principles, we hold that the [statute] does not supplant the protections of the public trust doctrine.” In re Water Use Permit Applications, 9 P.3d 409, 444 (2000) (referring to a water use statute that purported to allow the implementing agency to violate the duties of the trust).
Regardless of what you believe about the inclusion of wildlife in the public trust corpus, wildlife, such as wolves, could be protected by government through the public trust. “[T]he public trust doctrine [is not] ‘fixed or static,’ but one ‘to be molded and extended to meet changing conditions and needs of the public it was created to benefit.” Matthews v. Bay Head Improv. Assn., 471 A.2d 355, 365.
In Geer v. Connecticut the Supreme Court said: “Whilst the fundamental principles upon which the common property in game rests have undergone no change, the development of free institutions has led to the recognition of the fact that the power or control pledged in the State, resulting from this common ownership, is to be exercised, like all other powers of government, as a trust for the benefit of the people, and not as a prerogative for the advantage of the government, as distinct from the people, or for the benefit of private individuals as distinguished from the public good.” Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U.S. 519, 529 (1896). Before you reply with, “That was limited to state control of wildlife,” I’ll confirm that you are correct; that case was limited to the right of the state to control its wildlife. But, since we are talking about BLM, as agent of the Federal government, and its duty to preserve wildlife, the same obligations imposed on a trustee are applicable to the Federal and state governments, even if the way that those fiduciary duties are fulfilled vary as a result of Federalism.
You are incorrect about Professor Blumm’s view of the Federal applicability of the Public Trust Doctrine. He signed onto an amicus brief submitted a week or two ago in support of the plaintiffs of the Atmospheric Trust Litigation case, who recently petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court. That brief can be found here http://ourchildrenstrust.org/sites/default/files/LawProfAmicusBrief.14.11.06.pdf
The very first paragraph of the argument says: “In the underlying decision, the public trust doctrine has been misunderstood as purely a matter of state common law. The doctrine is in fact an inher- ent limit on sovereignty which antedates the U.S. Constitution and was preserved by the Framers as a reserved power restriction on both the federal and state governments. Nothing in the Court’s recent decision in PPL Montana v. Montana, 132 S.Ct. 1215 (2012), which the lower court misinterpreted, indicates otherwise.”
Why would he sign onto that amicus brief, the sole purpose of which is to emphasize the Federal government’s public trust obligations, if he thought PTD was purely a state obligation?
“the Constitution recognizes the public trust doctrine as a reserved power withheld from both the federal and state governments.” Id.
“Other courts have expressly applied the public trust doctrine to the federal government where re- sponsibility for managing trust resources is shared with the states. For example, in In Re Steuart Transportation Co., 495 F.Supp. 38 (E.D. Va. 1980), the federal government, along with the state, invoked the public trust doctrine in a claim for damages for loss of migratory waterfowl from an oil spill in Chesapeake Bay. The court upheld both the federal and state claims, stating that ‘[u]nder the public trust doctrine’ both governments ‘have the right and the duty to protect and preserve the public’s interest in natural wildlife resources.’ Id. at 40.”
“[T]he Court referred to the Secretary of the Interior as the “guardian of the people of the United States over the public lands,” noting that the “[o]bligations of his oath of office oblige him to see that the law is carried out, and that none of the public domain is wasted. . . .” Knight v. United Land Ass’n, 142 U.S. 161, 181 (1891).” As you know, BLM is an agency under the supervision of the Secretary of the Interior.
You are partially correct. A congressional goals, even when explicitly described in the text of a statute, is not enforceable by itself. However, congressional intent, legislative history, and the plain text of the enforceable provisions of the statute are all important. They do, indeed, provide the necessary context for the enforceable provisions. When taken in context with the blatant PTD language incorporated into the statutes, the explicitly expressed public trust intent of the original drafters of the statutes cannot be overlooked.
Also, you seem to overlook the fact that a delegation to the states does not mean that the Federal government has discharged its public trust duties. The “evidence” is not “to the contrary.”
“If state public trust duties accompany the sovereign authority of state governments to govern, then it follows that a federal public trust burden also conveys with the sovereign authority of the federal government to govern.” Mary Turnipseed, The Silver Anniversary of the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone: Twenty-Five Years of Ocean Use and Abuse, and the Possibility of a Blue Water Public Trust Doctrine, 36 Ecol. L. Q. 1, 45 (2009).
Under our Constitution, states have sovereign power as trustee for their people. They must carry out the traditional fiduciary duties imposed by PTD. However, the Federal trust remains, because Federal and state governments are co-trustees based on the concept of Federalism. Looking specifically at wolves, which, for the purposes of determining the Federal government’s powers under the Interstate Commerce Clause, can be roughly likened to a migratory species because of the fact that they unquestionably cross state lines. Cases of wolf dispersal have gained national attention recently: wolves from Idaho crossed the Snake River into Oregon; OR-7 traveled thousands of miles from the northeast part of Oregon into California and back to the Cascades, where he has established a pack which will likely result in more dispersal into California; and, of course, the wolf that was spotted at the Grand Canyon. Wolves affect interstate commerce. For example, Oregon’s wolves are extremely attractive to people who wish to photograph or merely bask in the presence of wolves. That brings people from states without wolves to states that do have wolves. That’s a non consumptive use by interstate and intrastate users. It’s sustainable; people come, dump money into the local economy, and leave with only pictures, video, and stories to tell.
Whew! Sorry for kind of going on a tangent. Going back to this BLM permit for a wolf-killing contest on federal lands, the issue does not relate to an infringement upon Idaho’s right to manage its wildlife. BLM’s withdrawal of the permit does not affect the state’s ability to define wolf seasons. It does not impose any obligations on the state as a result of this permit decision. If BLM had denied the permit initially–as it should have–it would be because of the effect of the contest on the “quality of the human environment.”
Among the things to be considered is the “relationship between local short-term uses of man’s environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity. . . .” NEPA Sec. 102(2)(C)(iv).
BLM’s finding of no significant impact was based on a critically flawed EA. Check out the claims made by a coalition of conservation organizations. http://www.cascwild.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Wolf-and-Coyote-Derby-Complaint.pdf
To wrap up, I just realized that I forgot to mention that I know that NEPA does not create substantive claims whereby people can sue to get a Federal agency to stop harming nature. It confers procedural rights. It forces agencies to consider the negative effects of their actions; it does not mandate that agencies avoid any harmful effects. However, there is a basis to sue under NEPA. Citizens may allege that an agency should have prepared an EIS, rather than just an EA, when it issues a FONSI. NEPA also requires agencies to listen to the voices of the people, and address the concerns accordingly. Around 40,000 people wrote to the Salmon BLM office in opposition of the permit before its approval. Only 16 people wrote in support. There is no vote to determine the approval of a permit. Furthermore, agency heads are appointed by the Executive branch, and not elected by the people whom will be affected by the decision of those officials. But to say that the will of the people is irrelevant is ridiculous. The government does not govern in spite of the people; it governs for the sole benefit of the people as a whole. This concept ties back to the PTD as an inherent attribute of sovereignty–a pre-constitutional doctrine–forming the very basis of a democratic government, but I think this post is already WAY too long, so I won’t double back to the topic.
I have countless other cases on PTD, and I will gladly discuss them, if you like.
Thank you for your posts!
Some here have minimized the public comments and the weight that should be accorded them. You wrote and I wholeheartedly agree, “NEPA also requires agencies to listen to the voices of the people, and address the concerns accordingly. Around 40,000 people wrote to the Salmon BLM office in opposition of the permit before its approval. Only 16 people wrote in support. There is no vote to determine the approval of a permit. Furthermore, agency heads are appointed by the Executive branch, and not elected by the people whom will be affected by the decision of those officials. But to say that the will of the people is irrelevant is ridiculous. The government does not govern in spite of the people; it governs for the sole benefit of the people as a whole.” The government works for us, when we speak that loudly they have an obligation to listen, and in some instances public comment is a statutory duty as defined by administrative procedure. It would be absurd to require comment periods only to have public sentiment and valid concerns invalidated through neglect or bias. The first decision of the BLM must certainly have involved one or both.
Once again thanks for your posts. So nice to see that discussion here. very informative. A timely and compelling argument to protect wolves under the PTD. Great discussion!
Indeed you have pointed out evolving theories of PTD. I have some reading to do.
I look forward to reading the amicus brief, but it may have to wait for a couple days.
Thanks for your learned participation here. It is refreshing.
I just wanted to say that I’m glad we could have a coherent discussion about PTD. It’s a concept that is constantly evolving, so many of the theories are at the “fringe” of what has become the modern paradigm of environmental law.
The amicus brief is a great background for the constitutional argument for PTD.
For more cutting edge PTD arguments, check out Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age by Mary C. Wood. It’s a personal favorite of mine, for what that’s worth.
I’m glad there are other people who are as passionate about PTD as I am.
There is NO halt to the pretty derby.
It is the SAME as it was last year, when participants simply disregarded the restriction on BLM lands.
The advocates’, many of which are my personal friends, characterization of this as ending the derby is EXTREMELY disingenuous – and backfilling the title with nuanced technicalities in the body of the press release IS NOT sufficient to mitigate the disingenuous message that is being broadcast suggesting that the event has been curtailed.
The handling of this in the media is EXTREMELY cynical and upsetting.
Those involved should be ashamed of themselves – all around.
You’re a real downer. Yes, people can break the law on 3.1 million acres of BLM land, which comprises the bulk of where this derby is likely to occur, as they can do when there’s not a derby. This victory, which took a huge amount of work, does make a difference by making the derby more difficult. In discounting this victory, you’re parroting and giving credence to our opposition’s position. We’re going to keep fighting to stop the derby altogether. Thanks much for your “support.”
The work behind the suit is well received.
The title/header sitting atop the press release is not the truth.
There is a little more to the derby being halted than discussed here….
If you read the BLM decision it provides that the permit was denied ultimately because the promoters added new requests….
Specifically, and ironically the BLM neglected to mention the lawsuit, the 90,000 comments against, or the well informed and legitimate rationale provided in the lawsuits. Instead took the coward’s way out and wrote some bullshit. In a bizarre turnabout they wrote that the participants changed their requests, one of the changes was related to removing cash prizes. I guess they were trying to make the contest less a contest and less objectionable. In doing so they lost the permit! It would be funny, if it did not further demonstrate the arbitrary and capricious nature of federal land management agencies.
I am very happy to see the BLM withdraw their permit yet like Brian, I agree. I think the derby will proceed unofficially with increased malice. Until the BLM and USFS and other public land managers have the balls to come out and publicly state that these contests won’t be tolerated, are not acceptable uses of pubic lands and condemn the mentality behind these disgusting events, then there is not as much cause to celebrate as one might think.
Worse yet the lackluster, weak ass BLM rationale and response only emboldens the contestants to merely look for another way to continue these events with their middle finger pointed at the 90,000 who opposed it.
I don’t think Brian is unsupportive of the efforts to end the derby, maybe just a little more realistic about the outcome and future for these events unless the federal agencies start to act like true stewards of public lands.
Brian did you see this this link? It came from an e-mail sent to me by someone on the wccl. The defiant response to the BLM withdrawing the permit.
Noah, [and Louise, pay attention here]
++…people can break the law on 3.1 million acres of BLM land, which comprises the bulk of where this derby is likely to occur…++
Can you tell me exactly what law(s) will be broken if these yahoos hunt on BLM land during the event? I urge you before answering this question to read the BLM announcement from yesterday.
Here is the link (and unless plaintiffs got some other paperwork from BLM this would be the agency’s official position):
The permit was rescinded because: “Ambiguity about details of the Derby operation make it difficult to conclusively determine whether an SRP is appropriate under our regulations, and if so, what terms and conditions would allow BLM to effectively manage and protect public lands and resources. No SRP has been issued for the Derby.”
To me, this says BLM now doesn’t believe it has the authority to issue an SRP. I also bet, behind closed doors, they would say they screwed up by throwing this into a NEPA review. Now, looking at this cynically, who do you think really broke the law? That’s right BLM.
As for the remainder of the announcement, “BLM requests that IFW advise Derby participants not to utilize BLM-managed land for any competitive or organizational activities and that the Derby not offer competitive credit for wildlife taken on BLM-managed lands.”
That doesn’t sound like a CONTEST PARTICIPANTS WILL BE PROSECUTED FOR VIOLATING FEDERAL LAW mandate. It is a request, which IFW seems to be inclined in this round of the derby to acknowledge – for now, but then that could change.
If the other suit by goes forward against USFS, perhaps that will tell us more, and if plaintiffs prevail then maybe the question of the hunting on federal land for derby prospects would be illegal if allowed.
WM I don’t think this means the agency doesn’t beleive it has the authority to issue am SRP they are just saying that the permit they issued was based on a certain set of facts and now that the applicant changed his request they need more time to assess.
Under there regs they clearly define the need to apply for an SRP if classifies as competitive and commercial use.
Commercial use means recreation use of the public lands and related waters for business or financial gain. The activity, service, or use is commercial if any of these conditions is present:
When any person, group, or organization makes or attempts to make a profit, receive money, amortize equipment, or obtain goods or services, as compensation from participants in recreational activities occurring on public lands, the use is considered commercial. Compensation for recreation services may come from participants and/or other sources.
Anyone collects a fee or receives other compensation that is not strictly a sharing of actual expenses, or exceeds actual expenses, incurred for the purposes of the activity, service, or use.
There is paid, public advertising to seek participants.
Participants pay for a duty of care (i.e., an expectation of safety).
Note: Use by non-profits and scientific, educational, and/or therapeutic institutions and organizations are commercial and subject to a permit requirement when the use meets any of the above criteria.
Examples: Outfitters and guides, fundraising (including non-profits), jeep tours, horse trail and wagon train rides, cattle drives, and photography associated with a recreational activity.
Competitive use means any organized, sanctioned, or structured use, event, or activity on public lands or related waters in which two or more contestants compete and either or both of the following elements apply:
Participants register, enter, or complete an application for the event.
A predetermined course or area is designated.
One or more individuals contesting an established record (e.g., or speed or endurance) is also a competitive use.
Examples: off-highway (OHV) vehicle races, horse endurance rides, mountain bike races, rodeos, poker runs, orienteering, land speed records, and Eco-Challenge events’
The BLM offers this to the contestants, clearly the applicant was attempting to bypass the requirement for an application for an SRP by amending its request. It backfired and the BLM took the easy way out and said they did not have time to review.
“BLM requests that IFW advise Derby participants not to utilize BLM-managed land for any competitive or organizational activities and that the Derby not offer competitive credit for wildlife taken on BLM- managed lands.”
Its unfortunate that their response/ language did not address the lawsuit, the NEPA review or the comments.
To summarize my view, which might be close to Logan’s.
Curtailing freedoms, without the usual excuse (necessity) holding much water, seems bad.
I would counter that, when it comes to killing for any purpose other than survival, the burden of proof (to show a necessity) should fall with those doing the killing.
That sounds like being against ALL coyote or wolf hunting. I presume that since coyote or wolf hunting is legal the burden of proof has been met.
Not at all. I can think of a variety of justifications/needs that may overcome the burden of proof (e.g., removal of problem animals, reduction of predators to assist T&E species). Context also matters. Our society still allows for lawful killing of people under certain circumstances (e.g., [in some states] when convicted of a crime, when they are armed and threatening the life of another). So clearly our society is capable of formulating rules that are more complex then the ‘all-or-nothing’ dichotomy implied in so many posts on this page.
Hikers can go to wilderness. 100 together cannot. We are “capable” of legislating that – I get it. I was asking that the more complex rule make sense and not seem capricious (“hold water”).
I’m on board — no rule should be arbitrary/capricious. I don’t think it’s capricious to turn around the burden of proof? Nor to ask for a well-reasoned justification for hunting (something beyond, cause we want to).
It is interesting to me that in many public places, vegetation has more protection than animals. I understand and agree with the logic of protecting vegetation (i.e., takes a long time to regenerate, and there are way too many potential ‘takers’ [CPR problem]); however, it seems capricious to me that sentient animals can be killed on public lands with little (or no) justification at all (or in some cases, very poorly reasoned justifications).
Here is a link to the “official” announcement of the BLM on the Special Recreation Permit:
It is interesting for the language it uses, as well as the language it does not use. I’m still confused.
Also note somebody at BLM who put up the link can’t spell very well. Recision? = rescission
This is fantastic news……I’m almost in tears.
Let’s all keep protecting wildlife instead of looking
for ways to destroy it; keep it positive and protective.
We want that for ourselves and our families, right? Animals are no different. If animals thrive, the environment thrives and humans thrive. Thank you for everyone who has supported this cause! Happy Thanksgiving to all…..
and Happy Thanksgiving to you too Lorelai…..
It appears you have been busted.
Here is a paragraph from your comments on 11/26/14 on this thread:
“To me, this says BLM now doesn’t believe it has the authority to issue an SRP. I also bet, behind closed doors, they would say they screwed up by throwing this into a NEPA review. Now, looking at this cynically, who do you think really broke the law? That’s right BLM.”
Now here are Chandie Bartell’s comments in response to the article in the “Times-News” of the same date:
“BLM does not operate off general public sentiment. It operates within a framework of federal laws which give it certain authority AND no more authority than is given it by Congress (in effect the states).
To me, this says BLM now doesn’t believe it has the authority to issue an SRP. I also bet, behind closed doors, they would say they screwed up by throwing this into a NEPA review. Now, looking at this cynically, who do you think really broke the law? That’s right BLM”
What is going on here? Surely the free world leader of the anti-wolfers would never stoop to plagiarism! Are you living a double life?
What is the Time’s News link?
did you consider Chandie Bartell plagiarized WM? She remarks on all kinds of forums. I haven’t seen anything she posted for a long time. I try and stay away from those sites. I am not sure she would even know what a NEPA review is…..
I was being a bit facetious. Here’s the link that Ida Lupines posted earlier in this thread:
BLM Reverses Decision, Says No To Idaho Wolf Derby Permit
If anything like in the past, those folks “live” over here.
She has commented recently on the Spokesman Review about the wolf that was shot in Whitman county WA; Capital Press (Ag news) WA cattle and wolves; and Smithsonian about sharing Earth – half for people the other half for animals. She often will repeatedly put up the same information in the same thread especially about Agenda 21 and Echinococcus granulosus.
It was brought to my attention that said individual was interested in debating something I said about the breeding female from the Huckleberry Pack that was mistakenly killed. As there exist cyber boundaries I will no longer cross, I wonder how intended debate might occur.
Same individual also wondered why wolves were captured way north in Canada when Minnesota wolves were much closer and a better match to the original native wolf. A quick map check shows the distance to the Frank Church Wilderness from Hinton Alberta is about half the distance as wolf country in Minnesota.
A wolf traveling on its own would have a much better chance of getting to the Northern US Rockies from Hinton – and apparently some of them did – than across all that prairie farm country between Minnesota and the western mountains.
E granulosis is well documented in N MN. I can find studies that date back to the 1930’s.
Here is a site from Oregon
“A tempest in a teapot” David Mech
Her response when someone pointed out this catch of possible plagiarism: “Oh, I caught that.”
Another attempt at the link. Check out the comments to the article.
When Obama pardoned the turkeys, Mac and Cheese, he looked a little awkward. Maybe that’s a clue as to why he steps back from actually getting involved in dirt and rain issues about wildlife, he just has no connection with the biota. Would have spoken volumes if he pardoned predators on public lands.
I feel personally, that hunting of any animals for any reason is a antiquated and barbaric act based on a inherited bloodlust. Hunting should not be allowed at all on public land.I want to see a proposal of Wildlife Watching, (proven to generate more revenue than hunting) by the intellectual and compassionate human that loves wildlife and all animals with amazement. A human that sees all the animals on this planet have just as much right to a life as they do. They respect the art of the environmental landscape, they take photos to share such beauty and serenity, and fight to save that beauty for their grandchildren. This is a time of evolving to realize that these dark acts of killing are becoming less acceptable by mainstream society.
Hear Hear!! I second your motion.
Thank you Ed, Good to know of like minds and hearts.
Why is a wolf derby needed when there is already a very liberal wolf-hunting season already in the state of Idaho?
Although this ‘event’ hasn’t been canceled entirely, the amount of land it would be held on has been halved, from what I have read. This permit would have been for five years, and authorized a lot more people. Also, an important point is that our government agencies have not legitimized them (USF&W is on record as saying they do not support it either). So this overkill will remain a frowned-upon activity by the general public and the government.
So all of that is something, IMO.
And it will remain, it seems, a below board activity as it should be – if the threats that I have read are anything more than hot air, and wolves and coyotes are killed on public lands where they are not authorized to be, then these people are poachers (but we all knew that anyway, didn’t we). Could anyone really believe the ‘contest’ totals?
I don’t think freedom means doing anything we want without any restrictions, at any time we want.
I’m sorry, I know it’s only a day or two after Thanksgiving and I’m back to spittin’ venom again – but I enjoy it. 😉
Here’s how Idaho is becoming known all over the world:
Not In The Public Interest
Up to 500 hunters could have participated in the hunting derby on federal land, scheduled to take place in January on three million acres of federally owned wilderness. Hunters could have taken a nearly unlimited number of wolves, skunks, weasels, starlings, raccoons, coyotes and jackrabbits. The derby would have taken place over three days annually, for the next five years.
So while it hasn’t been cancelled entirely, it has been weakened considerably. That’s still something, IMO.
Yaaaaa !!! remind myself to send CBD a couple of hundred this month.
“Wolf Perceptions In Idaho and Beyond” by Jeremy Bruskotter
This well thought out article was published on Jan. 22, 2014, but I just found it, and maybe some of you have not seen it either – It is still timely and will worth the quick read.
Thanks, Ed. 🙂
While planning some hiking in the canyonlands of the Southwest I was reminded of the ability of the BLM to restrict activities on land under its jurisdiction. For example, in some areas it can cost $5 to enter a lottery for a permit and $7 per person just to walk around for one day if you manage to get a permit. A walking around permit does not allow shooting animals, picking flowers, or gathering rocks – just walking around for a day and taking pictures. With all the comments that the BLM can’t really control what individuals do on public lands including the shooting of animals, the point here is that the BLM can severely restrict activities on the land if they choose to do so. The restrictions apply regardless of the hunting or other rules of the state in which the lands reside. Not sure whether this comes under the heading of PTD but certainly illustrates the ability of the BLM to restrict public use. In any case it would appear to a casual observer that the BLM could have consideralbe control over willy-nilly killing contests on our public lands.
Are there any other designations on the BLM land of which you speak, for example a National Monument, designated Wilderness, Wilderness Study Area, National Conservation Area, Area of Critical Concern, Research Natural Area or National Recreation Area? Because, if they are, some and I say only some, may have rules governing access, how long one can stay, whether a charge is assessed and what one might do while there. Wilderness, and Wilderness Study areas and some others allow hunting, while some National Monuments may not. There is A LOT of BLM land that falls outside any of these designations. And, Congress may specifically tell BLM when it designates a particular piece of land (as well as the catagories listed) what kind of activities will be prohibited.
BLM has quite narrow limitations on what it might do, absent Congressional direction or formal rule-making, which, of course, must be within the bounds of the statutes it operates. To my knowledge BLM may NOT make unilateral administrative proclamations to prohibiting of that activity or to materially limit it. Hope you are reading this, Ed.
Yes, I am reading what you are writing and basically, I think you are mistaken. The BLM legally has wide discretion on what activities they allow on BLM lands, even those not designated Wilderness, etc. HOWEVER, traditionally they favor hunting/trapping interests, oil-gas interests and private grazing interests rather than non-consumptive activities, including wildlife conservation. It is a choice the BLM is making and these choices are often in violation of the law, which is why so many lawsuits are filed against the BLM (and U.S. Forest Service) by environmental groups.
First, hunting in designated Wilderness on BLM is an allowed activity, if the land is otherwise not designated to prohibit it. For example designated Wilderness in a National Park is typically not allowed (Teton and a small part of Denali have partial exception, for example).
You might want to look at Sec. 302. [43 U.S.C. 1732] of FLPMA. A couple concepts for you to take away from that provision. BLM generally cannot/does not interfere with hunting or fishing on BLM lands, deferring to states, and if it does, it consults with states ahead of closures which may only be made for specific public health and safety or administration purposes otherwise consistent with FLPMA or other relevant federal law. You will also want to note that this provision also applies to the US Forest Service for lands in the National Forest System.
Here is a link to the law for ya in case you want to check: http://www.blm.gov/flpma/FLPMA.pdf
You might also be interested to know some of the legal victories on grazing matters are for failure of BLM to follow planning requirements of FLPMA, and some of them are procedural, while others are related to degradation of the vegetation there by allowing too many livestock or for too long.
+ 1… Yes, thanks for reinforcing the fact that the BLM (and the U.S. Forest Service) has the legal right to prohibit and control hunting/trapping no matter what the respective states say. Now, they just need the “will” to do so. Specifically, the U.S. Forest Service lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park need to be free of bison hunting, as well as wolf hunting & trapping.
The BLM is the agency that is violently and illegally removing our Wild Horses off public lands right now, against public outcry and opinions. They are responsible for killing and removing the Buffalo off of public lands. They obviously have the legal right to do what they want, and they are answering to a “special interest group”, not the public of which they were originally designed to do. F&W also answers to these same special interests groups too, NRA being one of them, that’s easy one, and here is a more recent connection, F&W involved in overseeing oil tanker transport? our tax’s go to pay for extra employees for oil transport that we already pay tax’s for at the pump? Is this really the agency that should handle Haz Mat clean up at the public’s expense? http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-oil-train-safety-20140708-story.html these 2 agencies are not working for the interests of Wildlife, that’s a fact.
++The BLM is the agency that is violently and illegally removing our Wild Horses off public lands right now…++
How is this illegal? And, here I thought it would be illegal if they didn’t manage wild horse/burro numbers and range, while protecting vegetation on the lands for which they are responsible. The Supreme Court says the states can’t do it, at least on the lands which BLM is supposed to manage them under the Wild Horse & Burro Act.
You are trying so hard to justify the anti-wildlife actions of the BLM, and yes, I am including wild horses in the wildlife category. The problem is not that the BLM is not managing the wild horse grazing lands, it is that they are still allowing private cattle to over-graze these same lands that are designated as wild horse range. It is privately owned cattle that should be removed from our public lands, not the wildlife.
I am not trying to justify anything, Ed. BLM has several laws it must administer, and it would appear some provisions of these laws may be in conflict. If BLM isn’t coloring within the lines of the statutes it administers, I am hopeful smart people will selectively initiate winnable lawsuits against them.
Wild horses are wildlife only in the sense that they are a protected as a feral invasive species under a Congress-made law that some find is extremely hard for BLM to administer in its present form.
WM, It is illegal for many reasons, but I will make it simple for you, The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, ” It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” The BLM is clearing the land of the Horses against the ACT, and the public’s opinion that they are violating this. There is much documentation that they are violating, yet for some reason, hundreds of thousands of Horse lovers complaining, protesting, legal suits, means nothing. It is of a rational mind, that there is no other answer for this than corruption of BLM.
Again, Dominique if BLM is not following the law, then that is a problem. But, let me throw one back at you…it is not as simple as you would like to believe it is under the law. And a general policy statement is not an enforceable provision. You would do well to read past the first couple paragraphs of the law.
Thanks WM, I have read the whole Act many a times, never mind, you miss the point.
You are correct that restrictions apply in certain areas such as Natl Monuments and Natl Parks. I was referring to a designated Wilderness Area open to many non-motorized activities and probably hunting. The point I was trying to make is that there are some recreational activities that the BLM has elected to significantly restrict. In this case the BLM is requiring a permit, limiting the number of visitors each day, and charging a fee for access. The visitor activity is not normally considered destructive or consumptive, except for the possible wearing of the rock by many boots and the loss of solitude if over run by visitors. I don’t have a problem with those limitations and support them
The analogy I was attempting to make is that a senseless killing contest that removes unlimited numbers of certain native wildlife from public lands could be controlled in a similar manner. I am not referring to hunting but rather to a killing contest. Would the BLM or NFS allow a contest to reward those who remove the greatest numbers of rocks, plants, mushrooms, buckets of sand or other natural resources from the land? I think not. Currently if you want to cut a Christmas tree on NFS land you must buy a permit and are limited in how many you cut and remove from the forest. The killing contest on the other hand, would encourage the destruction and removal of unlimited (limited only by the population) numbers of particular types of wildlife.
If the BLM/NFS can elect to control the use of the land by non-consumptive visitors, it would seem it could also restrict use of public land for consumptive contests. In particular, there are probably ways to justify restricting killing contests that are repugnant to most Americans including many hunters, without congressional approval. While consistency and non-discrimination are not always a strong suit of our governmental organizations, they should be.
I don’t disagree with you about the intent of the hunter, and that contest hunting is disgusting. However, IDFG and BLM don’t really look at a hunter’s state of mind. The act of hunting for a particular species is bounded only by the regulations which the state puts on that species, as to time, place, number of animals one hunter may take by a certain method. I don’t think there is much BLM can do, because generally they are not wildlife managers, but vegetation and access managers following policy of multiple use and sustained yield for the vegetation they manage (and as you point out rocks, sand, and maybe some archeological sites)
And, as mentioned earlier, it may be the restrictions on access/fee instances you cite were in high use locations which may have been identified as environmentally critical areas requiring such restrictions. However, I still can’t see that BLM or FS have much traction in what has historically been a primary responsibility of states which manage wildlife in a primacy role. There is restrictive language in that regard in many federal statutes. If BLM were to decide to assert authority in that area, I am certain the Western States (in fact all states with federal lands) would push back very hard.
So, it will be interesting to see how this round of the lawsuits go on the derby (after BLM rescinded the derby permit for lack of specificity of the event and perhaps other reasons). One suit is still pending, if I understand correctly.
WM wondering what you think lacks merit in the complaints. Are you making the argument that the state wildlife laws supersede the federal regulations pertaining to federal lands?
Perhaps the states will push back but unless US citizens want the Cliven Bundy model to be the accepted norm, then we do have an obligation and right to challenge misuse of public lands despite overlapping state and federal statutes.
I think both the complaints laid out excellent legal arguments supporting the case for denying the permit.
++Are you making the argument that the state wildlife laws supersede the federal regulations pertaining to federal lands? ++
Not at all. I think you have confused the argument. The federal laws have provisions that basically say leave states alone when it comes to wildlife management, UNLESS it interferes with federal responsibilities to manage federal lands (again those responsibilities are more aligned with vegetation management, access and extraction of resources on or in the ground), although they manage under umbrella principles of multiple use and sustained yield, which again focuses on the vegetation). This is key: sometimes regulations are not well written and go beyond a statute OR are written ambiguously and subject to interpretations that lack common sense. And, of course, the federal agency has discretion, and will only be overturned for an abuse of that discretion or arbitrary and capricious decisions (including whether to go thru a NEPA process).
A federal magistrate already ruled in favor of FS for last year’s event when she determined there was no basis to issue a permit or go thru a NEPA review. Only thing that has changed, it seems, is the event is a day longer.
From that decision as reported by the Missoulian newspaper: [US Federal Magistrate] ++Dale decided derby promoters were encouraging use of the forest for a lawful activity.
“The derby hunt is not like a foot race or ski race, where organizers would require the use of a loop or track for all participants to race upon,” she wrote, of events that might require such permits.
“Rather, hunters will be dispersed throughout the forest, hunting at their own pace and in their own preferred territory, and not in a prescribed location within a designated perimeter.” ++
Another key element is that a predator derby participant can do EXACTLY the same hunting on federal land the day before the derby and the day after the derby as long as the season for the animals they hunt are open.
Last, NEPA was never intended to address non-events like this, and there is no “significant federal action” decision for them to make.
The public trust doctrine stuff, at this point, I think is just filler, and mostly not articulately controlling law. The FS hasn’t breached the public trust, if any breach exists it would be Congress allowing the states to do their thing regarding wildlife. No federal judge/magistrate IMHO will want to touch that issue. Even if it is compelling, it won’t likely be decided by the date of the event, for this year, anyway, and I think it unlikely a federal judge will give an injunction to stop it. But, then, I could be wrong.
Cliven Bundy overstaying his grazing lease on BLM land is an entirely different matter. It is one of enforcing an existing judgment to remove his damn cows and for money owed on the lease and for cow removal costs. The impediment appears to be no desire of the feds to get into an armed standoff that could go sideways, like a Ruby Ridge type incident. Maybe old Clive will one day go to the grocery store by himself and find a couple US Marshals waiting at the check-out stand. 😉
Link to Missoulian news article on last year’s federal court decision on the derby:
Thanks for the link I;ll read it.
one last point, you wrote
“The public trust doctrine stuff, at this point, I think is just filler, and mostly not articulately controlling law. The FS hasn’t breached the public trust, if any breach exists it would be Congress allowing the states to do their thing regarding wildlife.”
I was interested that you included the last sentence, as I highly agree.
related to the PTD, and leaving aside other arguments, the petitioners present to the BLM and USFS reasons to include wildlife within the PTD and their duties to protect the lands and wildlife that are publicly owned. If litigated successfully, the case would presumably provide an interoperation inclusive of wildlife within the PTD and mandates to manage these public lands to include wildlife as natural resources to be covered under the PTD.
I thought Rance’s take on the PTD and an expanded definition that includes a federal mandate were excellent.
as you noted many statues are poorly defined and leave room for their interpretation by the courts.
I think the complaints have made good arguments and this is an interesting case for many reasons.
eels spell check and hit palm on sen = mess.
Please excuse and read this instead after first three statements,
related to the PTD, and leaving aside other arguments, the petitioners present to the BLM and USFS reasons to include wildlife within the PTD and their duties to protect the lands and wildlife that are publicly owned. If litigated successfully, the case would presumably provide an evolving expanded mandate to manage federal public BLM and USFS lands to include wildlife as natural resources.
I thought Rance’s take on the PTD and an expanded definition that includes a federal responsibility were excellent.
as you noted many statues are poorly defined and leave room for their interpretation by the courts.
I think the complaints have made good arguments and this is an interesting case for many reasons.
I wish they would be consistent in their efforts to protect parks, wilderness and places of historical significance. Two poorly enforced incidents come to mind: 1) Cliven Bundy; 2) Recapture Canyon.
As for finding a way to control these killing contests, if we had any politicians that had fortitude and gumption then they could attach a rider to a must pass bill. Make certain that it can’t be challenged in court. It’s a two way street, but those few politicians that may be on the side of conservation and wildlife seem to be lost on a dead end ally.
and Yvette, I love the idea of a rider that prohibits non germane riders on any omnibus or other must pass bill. Non germane riders are bad policy in democracy.
“New research shows Yellowstone wolves pick their prey based on pack size”
Seems pretty obvious to me…
So, if we left them alone, the packs would become large enough to hunt more bison, whose population we also complain about – making the already small percentage of livestock taken even less? Seems like a no-brainer…. but of course we couldn’t have that, leaving nature alone to what she does best. To many livelihoods depend on ‘managing’ both animals. 🙁
Exactly!! You are seeing the fallacy of humans killing wolves. Other research corroborates this Yellowstone research by demonstrating that the more wolves a pack has the LESS cattle are attacked with the wolves subsisting on wildlife like elk. If reduced to only one or two wolves, then they really have no choice but to go after domestic livestock like cows and sheep.
You may be overstating the evidence. I usually say such things are a possibility. I want it to be true, but that doesn’t make it true. Exact circumstances may matter, like what those wild prey are (around Great Lakes: few elk, moose, bison), how much humans killing wolves changes wolf densities (if at all), and where on the landscape are wolves being killed (how many domestic animals are there). Seems complicated.
Illegal wolf hunt in Idaho for next weekend being promoted by hunters who know it was cancelled.
This constitutes a conspiracy.
You can see who is promoting it by who likes what on the page
Super Secret International Predator Derby
(admin is probably Bruce Hemming / Toby Bridges)