Letters From the West

Salmon hosts wolf and coyote derby

salmonderbySalmon is hosting a coyote and wolf derby Dec. 28-29 offering cash and trophies for among other things, killing the largest wolf and the most female coyotes.

Children 10 and older can compete in the youth division. You can imagine the reaction.

Christine Gertschen, an environmental educator from Sun Valley called it “repugnant and unethical.”

“This is not hunting with sportsmen-like conduct but killing for sport and money” Gertschen said in a letter submitted for publication to the Idaho Statesman. “I am appalled that the wildlife I hold dear is treated with such lack of respect.”

Mike Keckler, chief of the Idaho Fish and Game Bureau of Communications, said 13 years ago, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a predator management policy.

“Fish and Game will not support any contests or similar activities involving the taking of predators which may portray hunting in an unethical fashion, devalue the predator, and which may be offensive to the general public,” the policy says.

“Idaho Fish and Game has not been asked and will not provide any financial support or logistical support for this event,” Keckler said.

Laura Zuckerman, reporting for Reuters from Salmon, quoted the Derby organizer Shane McAfee as saying media inquiries were not welcome.

Of course, if he were to defend publicly his public event he might point to the big buck contests that are are everywhere during deer season nationwide. How about big fish contests?

The issue of course is respect for the quarry. Predator derbys, which have been held across the West for years largely have held their targets up for ridicule, not respect.


Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West