Suit filed against
predator control plan for sage grouse
and The Associated Press
environmental groups filed a lawsuit April 17 to prevent implementation of
a predator control program aimed at helping southern Idaho's struggling
sage grouse population.
predators, the groups cite the loss of habitat as the major issue
threatening sage grouse. But an Idaho Department of Fish and Game official
contends the plan is sound even if habitat loss is another significant
far as I'm concerned, it's a well-designed plan to do predator
removal," said Tom Parker, chief of Fish and Game's Wildlife Bureau.
lawsuit targets the Wildlife Services operations of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, as well as the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service
because predator control will occur on land managed by the agencies.
Committee for Idaho's High Desert, Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho
Conservation League and Western Watersheds Project filed the suit.
won a lawsuit a year ago that required Wildlife Services to conduct an
environmental assessment before beginning predator control. The new
complaint contends the environmental assessment is inadequate because,
among other things, it does not evaluate the impact on predator
scope of the project involves 31 million acres," said Western
Watersheds Project Executive Director Jon Marvel, of Hailey. "That
qualifies even under the most modest reading of the National Environmental
Policy Act for an Environmental Impact Statement."
the groups already won part of the battle when, Monday, the Department of
Agriculture told Wildlife Services not to implement the plan this year,
pending a decision from the court.
Katie Fite, of the Committee for Idaho's High Desert, said the six-year
predator control study is not about science, but politics aimed at
diverting attention from habitat loss. Livestock overgrazing contributes
to that, she said.
agenda here is not research," she said. "Itís expanding
Wildlife Serviceís range of killing activities and reverting to the Dark
Ages of widespread predator eradication."
Services, which traditionally protects livestock, crops and the public
from predators, would use traditional control methods including poison,
traps, snares and aerial gunning to kill such animals as ravens, red
foxes, coyotes, raptors, badgers and magpies.
Services has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to approve the use
of M-44s, a poison control method involving the use of spring-loaded baits
that deliver lethal doses of sodium cyanide.
groups object, saying it would expand the use of the poison for the first
time beyond predators of livestock and federally protected species.