Wednesday, January 8, 2014

AP: Lawsuit Aims to Halt IDFG's Contract With Professional Wolf Hunter

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 9:59 AM

A group of conservationists—including Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch—are suing the state of Idaho and the federal government in the wake of Idaho hiring a hunter to begin killing wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

The Associated Press reports that the suit was filed Jan. 6 in U.S. District Court in Pocatello, and asks for an immediate injunction to stop the hunts.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game argues that the hunts will help recover the region's elk populations, and that by contracting with a professional hunter and trapper, the state will save money in its wolf management program.

But the conservation groups say the hunter's use of federal backcountry airstrips and a cabin demonstrates that the U.S. government approves of the controversial plan.

"Federal law does not permit the Forest Service to disregard its duty to safeguard the wilderness character of the Frank Church Wilderness," wrote Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso in the lawsuit. "IDFG's wolf extermination program threatens the wilderness character of the largest forested wilderness in the continental United States by removing animals that are a wilderness icon and whose undisturbed presence in the wilderness is critical to maintaining ecological balance among wildlife species."

The AP's Rebecca Boone reports that the hunter, Gus Thoreson of Salmon, flew into two backcountry airstrips in December before heading out with a team of three mules to reach a remote Forest Service ranger cabin.

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