Lawsuit Seeks Public Records on Controversial Wildlife-killing Contest in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho—(ENEWSPF)–November 17, 2015.   The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project filed a pair of lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act today to force the Bureau of Land Management to provide the public with information about a highly controversial wildlife-killing contest on public lands in Idaho.

In the suits, which were filed in U.S. district courts in Idaho and Washington, D.C., the groups seek information related to a “Predator Derby” on BLM lands in central Idaho.  The event is a contest to shoot and kill gray wolves and coyotes, among other animals, for cash and prizes. Nearly 100,000 people opposed the killing derby through public comments to the BLM last year.

“The BLM is refusing to let the public know about what it intends to do about the Derby this winter,” said Meg Townsend, an open government staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The agency has left us with no other option but to resort to litigation in order to obtain this public information, which will shed much-needed light on when this wildlife-killing contest will occur this year and whether the BLM intends to allow it to occur on public lands.”

The groups and their allies are currently challenging the agency’s failure to follow environmental laws in connection with the wildlife-killing contest, the first of its kind to include gray wolves since the 1970s. The BLM withdrew a permit last November after the groups sued to stop the event on public lands that the BLM manages.  The event has taken place on adjacent Forest Service lands for the past two winters.

“BLM isn’t being candid about its plans, which begs the question about whether the agency is hiding something,” said Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “The agency knows that the public opposes recreational wolf slaughter in Idaho, so it seems to be trying to keep the Derby application a secret.  But we want to know—and we have a right to know—what our government agencies are up to.”

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 refuge in the face of aggressive hunting and trapping in the state.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 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.