Wolf Patrol is asking Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials to stop the KB Memorial Predator Hunt from taking place on national forest lands. These kinds of contests should require an environmental impact statement or special permit at the very least, if they are taking place on federal land, so lets start asking why this contest is allowed to go forward without any oversight.
This predator hunt is planned for a portion of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest where six violent encounters occurred in 2018 between federally protected gray wolves and loose hunting hounds, such as those that will also be used during this hunt. While it is legal in Wisconsin to kill coyotes year around with no limit, Wolf Patrol believes organized wildlife killing events that offer cash prizes for the most animals killed should not be allowed anywhere on our national forest lands.
We might not be able to stop the hunt, but it shouldn’t be allowed on national forest lands without the legally required oversight. This is also an opportunity to draw attention to all the other coyote & bobcat killing contests in Wisconsin coming this winter, so please encourage everyone to contact CNNF forest officials:
Here’s an informative and well cited email to reference and read:
I have visited and utilized the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest system amongst dozens of other national forests throughout the United States during my lifetime. It has come to my attention that a predator hunting contest is planned for January 19, 2019 with the check-in site being in Townsend, Wisconsin, which is surrounded by CNNF lands.
I write to inform you that it is of my belief that a Special Use Permit should be required for the organizer’s of this commercial event, if hunters are expected to hunt in the surrounding national forest lands. There is a entry fee requirement, prizes are being offered and a payout. Those conditions make the event large enough to warrant oversight and should be categorized as commercial in nature, not exempt from the requirements of not needing a special use permit when hunting or conducting killing contest activities on National Forest lands. This killing contest is a commercial enterprise and therefore should be required to obtain a “special use permit” and to comply with all rules, regulations and laws applicable under the Endangered Species Act.
I would draw to your attention the following legal concerns and implications:
36 C.F.R. § 251.50 Scope.
(a) All uses of National Forest System lands, improvements, and resources, except those authorized by the regulations governing sharing use of roads (§ 212.9); grazing and livestock use (part 222); the sale and disposal of timber and special forest products, such as greens, mushrooms, and medicinal plants (part 223); and minerals (part 228) are designated “special uses.” Before conducting a special use, individuals or entities must submit a proposal to the authorized officer and must obtain a special use authorization from the authorized officer, unless that requirement is waived by paragraphs (c) through (e)(3) of this section. 36 C.F.R. § 251.50
I would also bring to your attention with this proposed coyote killing contest that the contestants are likely to be considered to having caused a “takings” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when they interfere with the gray wolf while conducting their activities. Have your biologists weighed in whether the killing contest will impact wolves for purposes of the ESA? Subject to a few exceptions listed in other areas of the statute, Section 9(a) of the ESA lists forbidden actions against endangered species.
These forbidden actions include the importing, exporting, taking, possessing, selling, delivering, offering to sell, etc. of individual animals that are part of the endangered species. “Take” is defined as “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.” I would argue, that unleashing dozens or hundreds of hunters within the national forest to embark upon a killing contest in wolf habitat would fall within what is considered harming or known as a taking.
The National Forest Management Act, 16 U.S.C.S. §§ 1600-1614, empowers the U.S. Forest Service to make rules to regulate the occupancy and use of National Forest lands. 16 U.S.C.S. § 551. Pursuant to authority, the Forest Service promulgated 36 C.F.R. § 251.50(a), which requires a private user of a National Forest to obtain a special use permit to engage in any activity not specifically exempted. 36 C.F.R. § 251.50(c) exempts noncommercial recreational activities, such as camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, and horseback riding. The regulations define a “noncommercial use or activity” as any use or activity that does not involve a commercial use or activity. 36 C.F.R. § 251.51. A “commercial use or activity” is, in part, any use or activity on National Forest System lands where the primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, regardless of whether the use or activity is intended to produce a profit.
Again, the killing contest has an entry fee, payouts and is commercial in nature. I realize that 36 C.F.R. § 251.50(c) provides, in part, that no special use authorization is required for noncommercial recreational activities such as camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and boating. However, even these noncommercial activities may be subject to the permit requirement under § 251.50(c)(1), if authorization of such use is required by an order issued pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 261.50
I have great concern that a commercial contest for the largest coyote killed in an area with a healthy gray wolf population is putting federally ESA protected wildlife at risk. As you may be aware, there were also 6 reported conflicts between wolves and hunting dogs in the area of the planned KB Memorial Predator Hunt in Townsend.
Thank you for your assistance and I hope you can tell me of any legal requirements for predator killing contests on CNNF forest lands and whether your office will be requiring a special use permit and consultation with USFS biologist to determine the impact this proposed killing contest will have on the Federally listed endagered wolf population.