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Environmental groups have won the latest battle in their effort to halt a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby in Idaho, but a pro-hunting group says the contest with cash prizes for whoever kills the most predators will go on as planned early next year.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, facing two federal lawsuits from conservation groups, canceled a permit late Tuesday issued to derby organizer Idaho for Wildlife on Nov. 13. The agency didn't mention the lawsuits in a statement but said modifications to derby rules made by the pro-hunting group after receiving the permit left it unclear if the permit could still apply without another round of analysis.
"We were expecting a fight, so it's nice to see the BLM had a change of heart," said Laura King, an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. "This is some of the wildest land in America. It is a safe haven for an iconic species that is just getting its foothold in the West."
Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife said BLM officials caved in to environmental groups. "Somebody in (Washington), D.C., twisted that I was trying to change the application so they could blame us," he said. "They're trying to blame somebody else because they couldn't take the heat." Alder said the derby still would be held in January on private ranches in the Salmon area and on U.S. Forest Service land, which doesn't require a permit. The contest includes a $1,000 prize each for whoever kills the most wolves and coyotes. The event last year drew 230 people, about 100 of them hunters, who killed 21 coyotes but no wolves.