Stop a depraved ‘predator derby’ on your public land

Predatory jackrabbit. Click image – witness lagomorphs’ vicious nature.
Jim Harper photo – en-wikipedia

The Environmental Assessment has been issued; comment deadline is Oct. 16, 2014. Details at end of post.

Q: What do coyotes, skunks, weasels, jackrabbits, raccoons, starlings, and grey wolves in Idaho have in common?
A: An arsenal of bullets heading their way.

Why? All are designated as predators by Idaho Fish and Game. And unless we–you and I–send a clear message to federal land managers about the value of these animals on our taxpayer-supported public lands, they will be in the crosshairs on 3,100,000 acres (Challis, Salmon, and Upper Snake Field Offices of the Idaho Falls BLM District) during another competitive killing derby slated for early January 2015. It’s sponsored by predator hate group Idaho for Wildlife, and follows their first, controversial derby held last winter–that one limited to coyotes and wolves. This time, they’re seeking a 5-year federal special recreation permit for their expanded death-fest.

So here’s the bad news: the public comment deadline is this Monday, Aug. 18. And here’s the good news: this is only the scoping period. It gives the public an opportunity to make suggestions for the development of the formal Environmental Assessment (EA), which will have its own public comment period. So if you don’t get your two cents in this time, not to worry–you’ll have another chance.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), for those unfamiliar with it, is a federal land-managing agency (like the Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service…) that manages for multiple use primarily here in the West. Read the BLM’s scoping letter to the public concerning the predator derby. It’s brief and lets you know what issues and impacts they plan to analyze in the EA. It also includes the email address for your comments.

Remember that our most intense antipathy should be reserved for Idaho Fish and Game for allowing competitive, gratuitous killing disguised as wildlife management, but our trump card as U.S. citizens is our public land investment. Federal land managers must hear from us that recreational killing contests are inappropriate on America’s public lands and that we expect them to deny the permit. Specifically, you might choose from these points and tell them:

  • to follow their own policy on competitions in designated wilderness and wilderness study areas (WSAs–several of these are within the competition area).
  • if the permit is granted, they’ll need adequate law enforcement to ensure that no hunting occurs in WSAs (an almost impossible task).
  • you object to a multiple-year permit as there are too many unknowns (WSA incursions? # of predators killed? impacts on habitat/ecosystems?)
  • though hunting these animals is legal, that doesn’t mean they should permit an organized competition to kill as many as possible.
  • (this one’s especially for those of us who don’t live in Idaho) that public land belongs to ALL citizens and must be managed for all.

The derby is scheduled for Jan. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, during which time contestants will slaughter as many predators as possible. According to the “Description of the Proposed Action” document (it, too, is brief):

If the mental image of these conscienceless killers (up to 500 of them!) hauling their bloody booty in for a tally of points is abhorrent to you, you’re not alone. If your understanding of the intricate relationships between wildlife* and ecosystems is based on scientific knowledge instead of ignorant hatred and self-interest, you’ve got company. If you think sentient, nonhuman animals should be left alone to conduct their lives in their own homes, you have many allies. While remembering that hunting these species is legal in Idaho and the BLM must respond to this request for a special recreation permit, let’s respectfully flood their office–now, or later when the EA comes out, or both–with our expectations for responsible public land stewardship.

*European starlings are non-native–just FYI.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Idaho public lands predator derby Special Recreation Permit (SRP) has been issued; comments are accepted from now until October 16, 2014. Find the EA and previous documentshere. Contact information for the Bureau of Land Management Salmon Field office (to submit your comment) is here. State your preference as Alternative 2: No action alternative.

Sending your own comments is best (as opposed to advocacy group form letters). Following are a few more talking points–please put them in your own words:

  • From page 6 of the EA: “Approximately 56,500 comments were received during the scoping period. Roughly 56,490 commentors indicated opposition to the event; most of these letters were copies of nine different form letters that expressed general disapproval of a hunting derby wherever it is held. Approximately 500 unique/personalized comments were received.”

Even if they remove all the so-called form letters, they still received 500 against to only 10 in favor! This overwhelming public opposition cannot be ignored; when do we, the citizens, have a say as to what happens on OUR public land? Remember–this is not local land or Idaho’s land–this is our land.

  • This is not “predator management” (as it is referred to in the EA)–it is killing for fun and profit. The EA even acknowledges (pg. 13) that coyote removal doesn’t increase prey species and doesn’t eliminate coyotes!
  • From page 15 of the EA: “The largest single category of non-resident wildlife-related recreation spending in Idaho is wildlife watching. Over 550,000 individual wildlife watchers spend over $432 million per year in Idaho and make up 67% of all “sportsmen” who recreate in the state.” Tourism based on wildlife watching–not killing–is an economic driver!
  • From page 20 of the EA: “Predatory species identified in the event would still be harvested at approximately equivalent levels, but not as a part of this event. There would not be localized increases in incidental non- game animal displacement.” Where is the data that suggests this? A competitive derby, in essence, creates a “bounty” for predatory species, and to suggest that up to 500 (the maximum allowed under the SRP) enthusiastic killers vying for cash prizes would not make a difference in slaughter rates is outlandish.

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