No wolves and 21 dead coyotes were turned in by participants in a two-day wolf- and coyote-killing contest held near Salmon over the weekend, according to the contest organizer’s website.
The Coyote and Wolf Derby, hosted by statewide hunters organization Idaho for Wildlife, offered $1,000 prizes for the biggest wolf killed and for the most coyotes killed.
The contest proceeded as planned following a federal judge’s decision Friday that the Salmon-Challis National Forest would not need to issue a special-use permit for participants to hunt in the forest. A coalition of five environmental and wildlife-advocacy groups, led by Missoula, Mont.-based WildEarth Guardians and including the Ketchum-based Boulder-White Clouds Council and Hailey-based Western Watersheds Project, had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pocatello on Dec. 23 seeking an injunction against the contest unless the organizer obtained a permit.
Idaho for Wildlife Executive Director Steve Alder said 236 people signed up for the contest. He said contest hunters saw only one wolf.
“I would have liked to see more wolves taken, but I expected this outcome,” he said. “It’s not simple to sport hunt them—they’re pretty smart. This was an educational opportunity to demonstrate that hunting wolves is not very effective. We need other control measures.”
The Salmon Wolf Zone has a quota of 45 wolves for the 2013-14 hunting season, which runs from Aug. 30 to March 31. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported that by Monday, six wolves had been killed by hunters in that zone.
“I would have liked to see more wolves taken, but I expected this outcome.”
Idaho for Wildlife
Coyotes are classified in Idaho as predators, and hunting the animals is unregulated. According to the Department of Fish and Game, trappers killed 3,468 coyotes in 2011-12. During fiscal 2012, the federal Wildlife Services agency killed 3,120 coyotes in Idaho in an effort to reduce livestock depredation.
The contest received widespread condemnation from wildlife-advocacy organizations. However, Alder said there was no evidence of opposition at the event.
“We had nothing, really, that was an issue,” he said. “Things were really calm.”
Alder said the event had “a phenomenal level of security,” with 16 officers from the Salmon Police Department and the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office, as well as one Idaho State Police patrolman, on site during registration Friday.
Alder said Salmon-area businesses sponsoring the contest reported that they received “hundreds” of phone calls containing death threats.
Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman said the alleged threats were beyond the capacity of his office to investigate, and he had passed on information regarding them to the FBI in Boise. He said he had not heard back from the agency as to whether it would proceed with an investigation, and a phone call to the FBI from the Idaho Mountain Express was not returned by press time Monday.
Bowerman said he had advised anyone who received threats to maintain a record of them.
“At this point, we’re just on hold,” he said.
Bowerman said that if an investigation is pursued and verifies the allegations, offenders would likely be charged with using a telephone to make harassing calls, a misdemeanor, given that they would not have been in a position to immediately carry out their threats, a condition required to support a felony assault charge. He said misdemeanor warrants cannot be served outside the state.
Greg Moore: email@example.com