Idaho Settlement Ensures Notification for Wildlife-killing Contests on BLM Lands

Cruel, Unethical Competitions Stopped for Last Two Years 

BOISE, Idaho— The Federal District Court of Idaho today approved a settlement agreement between six conservation groups and the Bureau of Land Management ensuring public notice of any wildlife killing contests on BLM-managed public lands near Salmon, Idaho.

In 2014 a vocal anti-wolf group — ironically called Idaho for Wildlife — applied for a BLM permit to use public lands for a three-day predator-killing contest near Salmon. The derby encouraged participants to kill as many wolves, coyotes and other wildlife as possible, promising cash prizes. Idaho for Wildlife promoted the derby as a family event and encouraged children as young as 10 to participate.

“This cruel, unethical and ecologically damaging contest should not occur on any lands, but particularly not on public lands belonging to all of us,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We will continue to watchdog and fight these killing contests across the country to protect our nation’s wildlife.”

The BLM initially granted Idaho for Wildlife a permit to use its lands for the event, but rescinded the permit after the environmental groups challenged it in court. After holding the contest on Forest Service lands in December 2013 and January 2015, Idaho for Wildlife declined to hold the killing contest on either BLM or Forest Service lands during the past two winter seasons while litigation was ongoing.

“Wolf- and coyote-killing contests are an affront to ethical hunting and are incompatible with wise management of federal public lands and the wildlife that lives there,” said Laura King, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “We will hold BLM’s feet to the fire to ensure that the agency complies with federal law in permitting and reviewing any future contest proposed for BLM lands.”

Among other things the settlement requires that the Bureau of Land Management notify the conservation groups if the agency receives an application for a contest aimed at killing wolves or coyotes on Idaho’s public lands in the future.

“Having a contest to kill as many animals as possible violates every tenet of sound wildlife management, and has no place on public lands,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “This settlement is a step in the right direction toward ending these cruel contests, at least not allowing them to move forward before the public has an opportunity to raise legal objections.”

“Wildlife killing contests have no place on our public lands,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director with WildEarth Guardians. “Our public lands should be safe for all users to peacefully recreate and enjoy viewing wildlife, without risks associated with large numbers of people trying to kill animals for killing’s sake.”

Today’s news does not affect ongoing litigation the environmental groups brought against the U.S. Forest Service for allowing the contests to take place on Forest Service lands in December 2013 and January 2015 without requiring a permit. That case was argued in front of Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush on Jan. 11, 2017 and the parties are awaiting a decision.

“BLM will have to consider all of the opposition that was voiced before permitting any similar contests in the future,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “We hope the court will also ensure that contests cannot take place on Forest Service land in the future without an appropriate public process.”

The environmental groups that challenged the contest include Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Project Coyote, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians. The groups were represented by attorneys from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Environmental Law Center, as well as by solo practitioner Dana Johnson.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy.

The Western Environmental Law Center is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm. WELC uses the power of the law to safeguard the wildlife, wildlands, and communities of the American West.

Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.

WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit conservation organization protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.




  1. GPC Avatar

    I greatly appreciate all of the organizations and “solo” attorney litigating on behalf of wildlife. We need them more than ever. Dig deep, folks.

  2. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Thank you, all!

  3. alf Avatar

    If my memory serves me, a spokesperson for the “predator derby” slipped up and and publically admitted that the reason they didn’t hold their slaughter-fest in the winter of 2015-16 was because in the previous two attempts “they didn’t kill any wolves” (in spite of repeatedly previously claiming that it wasn’t a wolf-killing derby).

  4. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    I hate to be a “Gary Downer”, but this settlement agreement does NOT mean these predator killing contests will end on BLM managed lands. It simply means that the BLM will be required to notify the public when an organization applies for a special use permit. To stop these killing contests means each individual must change his or her attitude for animals who are competitors in regards to hunting and who provide numerous benefits to the landscape. Litigation does not change behavior, it has to come from the heart.

  5. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Hearts, and minds. Both made of stone and unchanging, apparently. Still, it’s better to know than not know, and I’m sure that many people are not aware that these clandestine horror shows are still going on in modern times, and would find them appalling. And that their government would allow them, and by doing so, condone them.

    I always wondered if the first contest was just to rile up the enviros and wildlife advocates anyway, as there was only ever one? They like to do that sort of thing.

    1. Scott MacButch Avatar
      Scott MacButch

      “I always wondered if the first contest was just to rile up enviros and wildlife advocates..” – hardly, several of these contests go on in Wyoming every winter. Check out the website:

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        Thanks, but no thanks. When you’ve seen what human beings are capable of, you don’t need to see it more than once.

        And these activities do have the additional fun of making sport of and riling up the wildlife advocates and environmentalists. One of the collared wolves of Yellowstone someone has had taxidermied on his mantle, and sends pictures out to advocates periodically. I saw this on the Wolf Patrol site, as well as what others have told me.

  6. Bruce Bowen Avatar
    Bruce Bowen

    This sickness of hate for wildlife will continue as long as the republicans exert control over the government.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      And as long as the Democrats hand wildlife over to them in exchange for votes!

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