BLM Settles 2014 Wolf Derby Permit Lawsuit Agrees to Notify Environmental Groups of Future Permit Applications
BOISE – The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) has reached a settlement with several environmental groups to ensure that groups with an interest in public lands can meaningfully participate in the land management process whenever BLM might in the near future again be asked to consider applications for predator hunting contest permits utilizing portions of public lands in east-central Idaho, announced U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson. The settlement has been approved by Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush.
The settlement ends litigation against BLM by plaintiffs WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, and Project Coyote. The groups alleged that BLM failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act when it authorized the issuance of a special recreation permit to a non-profit group, Idaho for Wildlife, for a predator hunting contest in the Salmon, Idaho, area on November 13, 2014. BLM withdrew its authorization on November 25, 2014, and no permit was issued. In subsequent winters, 2015-16 and 2016-17, neither Idaho for Wildlife nor any other non-profit sought a permit for a hunting contest from BLM in the same area.
Olson stated that the settlement best served the agencies and the public interest. “Rather than continuing to press its legal defenses in court, BLM agreed to notify environmental group attorneys of any applications for contests involving the hunting of wolves or coyotes received by BLM’s Idaho Falls District Office over the next three years,” said Olson. “This opening of communication underscores BLM’s commitment to assuring that public input into future decisions would not be rushed or minimized.”
“We are pleased to have reached this settlement agreement with these plaintiff groups,” said Idaho Fall District Manager Mary D’Aversa of BLM. “Thousands of visitors recreate in and around Salmon every year and we will continue to take our land management responsibilities very seriously on behalf of all Americans.”
“The agreement reaffirms BLM’s commitment to transparency and to public involvement in the management of our public land,” said District Manager D’Aversa.
The plaintiff environmental groups have brought different claims against the United States Forest Service. Those claims remain outstanding.