Congressman DeFazio and a Coalition of Groups Send Letters to U.S. Forest Service Asking them to Require a Permit for Predator Killing Contest

Just a week after the BLM withdrew its decision to issue a Special Recreation Permit to “Idaho for Wildlife” (IWF) for a predator killing contest, Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR) and a coalition of Environmental Groups have sent two separate letters to the U.S. Forest Service asking them to not allow the contest on U.S. Forest Service lands. The U.S. Forest Service has not required a permit or initiated a public comment period.

In contrast, the BLM did inform the organizers that they must apply for a Special Recreation Permit to hold the killing contest on BLM lands. After receiving about 95,000 comments opposed to the contest and only 26 comments supporting issuance of the permit, the BLM issued the permit to hold the derby on BLM lands. This prompted two lawsuits from environmental groups against the issuance of the permit. On the day that the groups planned to file briefs with the court, BLM suddenly withdrew the permit.

The organizers have since stated that they still intend to hold the derby on U.S. Forest Service and private lands. The contest is scheduled for January 2nd-4th in the Salmon and Challis, Idaho areas and the predator killing contestants will compete for cash prizes for killing the most coyotes or the biggest wolf.

Yesterday – on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, and Project CoyoteAdvocates for the West sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service saying that:

[….T]he Forest Service has not yet required a permit, held public comment, or evaluated the impacts in response to IFW’s request for a Special Use Permit. Rather, the Forest Service notified IFW by letter dated August 19, 2014 that no permit was needed to hold the Derby on the SCNF. In light of IFW’s recent material and substantive changes to the event, however, the Forest Service must take a fresh look at the Derby and determine whether it requires a Special Use Permit as now proposed. In the meantime, the Forest Service must notify IFW that it is not authorized to hold the Derby on the SCNF until the Forest Service has completed this review and, as explained below, unless IFW obtains a permit.

The Forest Service’s August 19 determination was wrong. Forest Service regulations provide that all uses of National Forest lands are “special uses” and must be authorized by the Forest Service through issuance of a Special Use Permit. 36 C.F.R. 251.50(a). Use and occupancy of National Forest land without a Special Use Permit is prohibited. 36 C.F.R. 261.10(k). Certain enumerated activities are exempt from the Special Use Permit requirement, including noncommercial recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, and hunting. 36 C.F.R. 251.50(c). But hunting and other recreational activities do require a Special Use Permit if the activity is a commercial event or a noncommercial group use, and the Forest Service has consistently treated events like IFW’s Derby as either a “commercial event” or as a “noncommercial group use” requiring a Special Use Permit.

Today, Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR) also sent a letter and issued a press release.

I urge the Forest Service to require the organizers of the aforementioned killing contest to apply for a special use permit or other permit before considering whether the contest should take place on NFS land, as the BLM has required for the same activity on land it manages. I also urge the Forest Service to prohibit the event from taking place on NFS land this year, to ensure there is time to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement of the event and permit application. ~ Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR)

You are encouraged to contact Salmon-Challis National Forest Supervisor Chuck Mark to ask that the U.S. Forest Service not allow the predator killing contest on U.S. Forest Service lands.  He can be reached at this email address


  1. Kyle Gardner Avatar
    Kyle Gardner

    It is possible, is it conceivable, that wildlife “killing contests” are a phenomenon in our society? A “derby”? Why, we might as well build a forum for elaborate games, make sure the people are over fed and perpetually entertained, broadcast the mayhem on satellite TV, create a hall of fame and enshrine the bloodiest participants, present them with garlands and honor their “warrior spirit.”

    If we (the royal we) have even a shred of decency remaining in the moral fabric of our society, we ought to not only provide our comments to the NFS about this proposed “derby,” but we ought to go well beyond such niceties and demand a complete and total ban on such folly forevermore. Whose rights are being violated here?

    And yet, such events, reveal a great deal about the minds that operate in this great land, and the deep ethical deficit we face. Simple question: would our progeny evaluate us with anything less than disdain if such monstrosities as the killing derby were allowed? We simply have to speak out on this.

    1. Joanne Favazza Avatar
      Joanne Favazza

      Kyle Gardner: Love your post, and I wholeheartedly agree. This culture has lost its moral compass, if it ever had one at all.

  2. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Thanks, Ken.

    Although Peter DeFazio is not the US representative from my district I have supported him in elections because of his environmental advocacy on most issues.

  3. Ed Loosli Avatar
    Ed Loosli

    Ken Cole:
    Thank you for this latest news from the killing front…HOWEVER, when I clicked on the link to contact the Forest Service [cmark(at) about this barbaric “derby”, it comes up, “The webpage is not available”. I tried to open it in both Internet Explorer and in Google Chrome and got the same message from both.

    1. Rich Avatar


      Its actually an email address so when you click on it, an email message format should come up with the address already in place. At least that is what happened when I clicked on it. If that doesn’t work, just copy and paste the address into your usual email application.

  4. WM Avatar

    Looks like the ID derby is not the only one in the press. CA and Camilla Fox of Project Coyote are in the news, too. Conflation of the risks coyotes pose to livestock with the behavior of a subset of coyote killers doing their deed for fame, prizes and money. The livestock folks don’t care how it is done as long as coyote numbers are reduced.

    I wonder how politically correct Davis, CA (U of Cal town surrounded by agriculture) is doing without participation in its coyote sanctuary zone, while the rest of the county still participates in the co-op contract with FWS (APHIS/USDA)?

    Will US Forest Service (in the Department of Agriculture) head Tom Tidwell defer to Representative DeFazio, ranking member of the Natural Resource Committee, also from a near coastal, politically correct college town (Eugene, OR I think) in the request to stop the Salmon coyote derby? Interesting politics and dynamics at play as Congress takes a shift to the right next term.

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      As JB said a week or so ago,

      “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.”

    2. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      What’s good about the California case it that it is getting much more exposure than just local.

  5. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Derbies are not needed. If livestock depredation is a problem for ranchers, they’ve already got Wildlife Services and laws that allow them to shoot predators on their land, don’t they? A generalized derby or hunt doesn’t help them. I don’t see the point of connecting predators with livestock losses in news articles. Just another myth.

  6. Joanne Favazza Avatar
    Joanne Favazza

    Pete DeFazio rocks! I wish he was MY Congressman…

  7. Sam Hill Avatar
    Sam Hill

    It interests me that the same people leading the charge here, trying to save predators from their death by the hands of us, are the same ones who ask us to open our wallets to save every stray cat and dog that walks the earth… But when our pets are killed, disemboweled and tortured in our fenced in yards by a predator they say nothing or worse, dismiss it claiming it simply is what they do and we should tolerate it. The Wolves are not the enemy… Nor is the hunter, or the state or federal wildlife agency who allows or promotes these derbies. The real enemy here (the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing)is the one who hides behind the emotional pleas to ban practically every single animal use activity under the sun for a rather lofty hidden agenda that most people on this planet would find rather bizarre at best. I hope that the NFS has enough common sense to see through the attempt to stop this event as just another media stunt that is being used to further restrict our rights and give all animals the right to live our their live in peace and harmony without interferece from us – which of course is the biggest farse out there.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      A good read Sam Hill:

      “And so, to alleviate the anxiety we feel over our animal nature, we try to separate ourselves from our fellow animals and to exert control over the natural world. We tell ourselves that we’re superior to them and that they exist for our benefit. We treat them as commodities and resources, use them as biomedical “models” or “systems” in research, and force them to perform for our entertainment”

      1. Sam Hill Avatar
        Sam Hill

        Nancy, Holy cow, where do I start?? So apparently, based on Michael Mountain and Lori Marino – I am ok with conservation measures that include the lethal management of wildlife because I have issues with my own mortality and being a member of the human race?? And this uncomfortable feeling is making me exert my “control” on the natural world by trying conquering it and make it subordinate to me? In addition, I apparently not happy being human? I am glad they let me know, because I simply didn’t have a clue. Unfortunately, I am painfully aware of my own mortality today, since a close relative literally dropped dead of a heart attack last night at the young age of 58. And I can assure you, his death in no way is encouraging my apparent subconscious desires to conquer nature. But I can assure you the human impacts of his death are very real and far reaching for other humans. This idea that animals should have “legal” status to that of humans is beyond absurd. Interesting read though… but really bordering on delusional and anyone actually buying into this on the same plane should have their head examined.. and preferably not by some with the initials L.M.! Personhood for animals? Really? Have you actually gone to his website and read it? I think these people are living in a parallel universe (or want to be). Last time I checked there has not been a documented professor teaching psychology, physics or history that does not belong to the human race. The point being that there is a difference between us and other species – a big difference. It’s why there is a human condition. If there wasn’t, the term would not exist. The reason people participate in hunting, fishing and trapping on this continent is because they want to get closer to the land, wildlife and the connection with it and they love the challenge. It is surely not because they are disconnected. These are the foundational cornerstones of the North American Conservation Model. The hunting community protects more land for all wildlife (non-game as well) than any other organization. It is really upsetting to me that the conclusion these authors draw here is 180 degrees opposite of what is actually true. Did they ever talk to someone who hunts or the people who have dedicated their entire careers to the management of wildlife. I can assure you, it is not because they want to dominate them.

        1. Ed Loosli Avatar
          Ed Loosli

          Sam Hill:
          You wrote: “The reason people participate in hunting, fishing and trapping on this continent is because they want to get closer to the land, wildlife and the connection with it and they love the challenge.”

          To do all the things you wrote about it is not necessary to kill the wildlife you are “connecting” with. Try, hiking or wildlife photography for example, so the animal is still around for the rest of us to enjoy seeing later on. Or try the challenge of “tagging” a bear, wolf or mt. lion with your bare hand — That would be a real challenge worthy of a courageous human, who does not want to dominate wildlife.

          1. Ida Lupines Avatar
            Ida Lupines

            People seem to minimize the ‘challenge’ as much as possible – such as with not getting out of their trucks and shooting into herds, canned hunting and poaching.

            There are hunters like those (what in the) Sam Hill speaks of, but they are not the rule. Human beings love to dominate – they have done it to other humans since time immemorial, and animals are certainly no different. I think it is one of the flaws in our nature. We’re not perfect and far from it.

            Animals may not be exactly the same as humans, but they are worthy of having their lives and capacity to feel and habitat respected by humans. We treat vile murders better than animals. For every poet, finder of cures, painter of the Sistine Chapel and philanthropist, there’s a vile killer, child predator, charlatan or thief. We don’t like to admit that there is a side to human nature that is violent and bloody as any predator ever was, we’re the tops at that too.

          2. Sam Hill Avatar
            Sam Hill

            I’ve done all those things, short of tagging a mt lion with my bare hands – though came inches to a black bear once. I thoroughly love watching wildlife and do it often without a rifle or bow in my hands. But love the taste of wild game and get satisfaction out of being intimately involved in the entire process as well. I have also witnessed coyotes and foxes without fur and sores all over their bodies from mange. I have seen raccoons ravaged with rabies and have no problem looking at the species as a resource, where I know that by helping to keep their populations in tune with carrying capacity of the land produces heathier animals. The reality is we can’t stockpile wildlife like cordwood and pull it off the pile when conditions demand it. So I ask you, what is so bad about humans participating in the death of animals… We are after all simply another predator to them, putting pressure on a wild population. Great thing about modern wildlife management is that we do it through regulated hunting and trapping activities with the species identified as a priority. Mother Nature is crueler by a factor of ten. If we could hold her accountable for the suffering she has inflicted… We would all be looked as as saints.

            1. Ed Loosli Avatar
              Ed Loosli

              Sam Hill:
              You wrote,”Great thing about modern wildlife management is that we do it through regulated hunting and trapping activities with the species identified as a priority.”

              This seems true for some species, but not really for others species. I agree with many scientists that confirm that hunting and/or trapping of wolves, coyotes, foxes bobcats and bison are not being identified as a “priority” when they are killed.

              With kill levels for wolves in Idaho and Wyoming such as they are, it is doubtful if gray wolves will ever be restored to Colorado, Utah or Arizona. With kill levels of bison holding them at 3,000 in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, how will they ever get to their carrying capacity of at least 6,000?

              1. Sam Hill Avatar
                Sam Hill

                Ed, And so.. I believe we are getting back to the real issue here. That being; should we be participating as a top predator in today’s highly altered natural world? I my opinion, there needs to be a balance between zero tolerance and coexistence, which is where proactive management (with lethal methods as an option) succeeds. I see real, long term tangible value in our society participating in wildlife management – using both lethal and non lethal means and I suspect you do not. Like it or not the human race will be on this planet for a while and it is critical that we are participants in and witness to the entire circle of life. And I’m not just talking about focusing on the final moments – which is generally what anti-hunters like to do. We are still here on this earth because of animals and the use of them. Period. And I completely respect that (part of the human condition dilemma). For every “Scientist” you speak of, there are 3 that more that debunk their claims.

                1. Ida Lupines Avatar
                  Ida Lupines

                  It’s too bad more people don’t give it the kind of serious consideration that you do, Sam. I mean that sincerely.

            2. Ida Lupines Avatar
              Ida Lupines

              Great thing about modern wildlife management is that we do it through regulated hunting and trapping activities with the species identified as a priority.

              That’s an idealistic scenario and does not reflect reality. “Hunters” (and I use the term loosely for many) don’t pay any attention to modern wildlife management objectives (I’m not sure I even understand what they are – are they to protect the species or human interests?) and quotas and remove animals they simply don’t like, or that compete with them.

              Mother Nature isn’t crueler – anything humans have suffered is brought on in most cases by other humans. I like to think of us as her wayward children. Even nature can’t duplicate the devastation of human inflicted wars.

              Glad you asked – what is bad about humans participating in the death of animals? You don’t have to enjoy it so much! Plus, you minimize their pain and suffering subordinate to your needs. You don’t treat it seriously. It should only be done the way other animals do it – for food and survival. You’re not helping the species, their lives are not your business.

              In modern times, this isn’t a necessity, but something some choose to do.

              1. Sam Hill Avatar
                Sam Hill

                oh…. but it is our business. Not only is it our business it is our responsibility. And I take issue that the vast people who hunt, fish and trap are thrown into a category of heartless bastards who could give a hoot about wildlife conservation or the animal. The one’s who don’t care, and violate the conservation laws are not part of the north american conservation community and are are in the serious minority. I personally know dozens if not 100’s of dedicated hunters, trappers, state and federal wildlife managers who are absolutely committed to the health of wildlife. Mother nature isn’t cruel? By our standards there is no dispute there. Have you ever watched a downed bison be slowly disemboweled and eaten alive for days by a pack of wolves before it succumbs? Bottomline, we are all uncomfortable with killing, it is not something we look forward to doing… but it is an essential part of the activity and we do struggle with that, it is part of our human condition. I never said this was a black and white issue.

                1. Mark L Avatar
                  Mark L

                  Sam Hill,
                  I assume you group trappers in with hunters and fishers, right? Not everybody does this.

                2. Sam Hill Avatar
                  Sam Hill

                  Trappers, play a critical role in conservation… after all, they are the ones who provided the wolf, otter, beaver, lynx, etc. to the state and federal agencies to reestablish their populations. We are actually having the conversation if we should regulate the number wolves now because of their successful efforts – ironic? They are also the ones we first turn to when studying these animals. The experienced trapper is to thank for their comeback, from a time when we had no regulations and extermination was the goal. They are also the “low hanging fruit” for the anti conservationists, saying that they just want to kill animals. In Massachusetts the anti’s ran a successful ballot question to eliminate commercial trapping 18 years ago. Guess what – they failed miserably. Commercial trapping is bigger than ever before, and costing the taxpayer millions, only now it’s through the commercial ventures of “problem animal” control businesses. More beavers for example, are being killed now at 3x’s the annual rate than before. So Micheal Mountain got his wish in MA.. It’s not a “resource” anymore. That’s just great.

              2. Sam Hill Avatar
                Sam Hill

                Ida, I missed a couple comments you made… that “I minimize their pain, subordinate to my needs” and that I enjoy it too much”. Well, I can tell you that I am not minimizing animal welfare at all, in fact it is a priority. This is not simply my words, but the words of those determined to maintain these activities for generations to come. We know more than anyone that hunting, fishing and trapping in North America is a privilege, not a right. The hunting/trapping community have gone to great lengths to put the welfare of the animal as a top priority. It’s just that “animal welfare” means different things to different people. Animal “welfare” to an ‘animal rights’ proponent means something vastly different to a hunter or trapper. “I enjoy it too much?” It is not the death of the animal that is enjoyed. The death of the animal is something that sometimes results after many hours of preparation, hard work and countless trips to the field. It is that time I truly love, so yes I am guilty there if that is what you are implying. It is also what seems to be trivialized by the opposition.

                1. rork Avatar

                  I’ve tried to explain, with examples of blueberries and now invasives: It’s fun going out with the botany types doing stewardship work, perhaps killing autumn olive as we go, perhaps spotted knapweed. But as Barb displays below, if it’s fun, and involves killing, then I’m wrong – it’s the killing that is fun, and must be my main motivation. It’s incredibly common. In several mouths here we olive-killing sociopaths.

                2. Nancy Avatar

                  “Well, I can tell you that I am not minimizing animal welfare at all, in fact it is a priority. This is not simply my words, but the words of those determined to maintain these activities for generations to come. We know more than anyone that hunting, fishing and trapping in North America is a privilege, not a right.

                  ***The hunting/trapping community have gone to great lengths to put the welfare of the animal as a top priority**

                  Those words should give you great comfort Ida.

                  Where would wildlife be without such thoughtful, caring individuals…….

                3. Ida Lupines Avatar
                  Ida Lupines

                  I meant to clarify that I was using (or shouldn’t have) the word ‘you’ in the general sense – I didn’t mean to direct my comments at you personally. My apologies! I should have worded it differently. 🙂

  8. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Steve Alder about predator derbies: “It’s no different than a “big buck” contest”. “It’s one of the ways hunters keep busy and have fun in the winter.”

    Interesting that they find killing is fun.

  9. Sam Hill Avatar
    Sam Hill

    To Nancy.. unfortunately I am assuming there’s a hint of sarcasm there. But I honestly believe what I say. I have witnessed first hand the animal rights noble, large scale attempts to save wildlife from suffering and it isn’t pretty. It looks good on paper though


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole