Western Watersheds Project and the Idaho Conservation League have filed a lawsuit in federal District Court in Boise, Idaho, against the Sawtooth National Forest for its failure to protect wolves.
The lawsuit is a result of the failure of the Sawtooth National Forest to comply with the 1972 federal statute which created the 750,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) and the Sawtooth National Forest Plan, which was completed in 1987.
Both of these legal authorities require the Forest Service to give priority to wildlife, recreation, and fisheries over livestock grazing in the SNRA. The lawsuit asks that the court order the Forest Service to determine if its management of livestock significantly impairs recreation, fisheries, and wildlife, including wolves, before continuing to authorize annual livestock use in the SNRA.
The increase in the number of wolves and wolf packs in central Idaho since wolf reintroduction commenced in 1995 has resulted in more wolf-livestock interactions. One consequence has been the killing of 35 wolves by unknown private parties and federal gunners and trappers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division. Eighteen wolves have been killed on or adjacent to the SNRA in the past few years. Two males wolves of the White Hawk Pack were gunned down from a helicopter near Horton Peak in the SNRA two weeks ago.
The lawsuit is part of an ongoing effort to protect wolves, fisheries, and recreation on federal lands like the SNRA, which have special management status. A similar lawsuit is being considered against Grand Teton National Park, where cattle grazing is still being permitted in occupied wolf, lynx and grizzly bear habitat habitat.
The groups' capable legal representation is by the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies' Boise office including Mr. Bill Eddie, Ms. Mindy Harm and Mr. Laird Lucas of the Laurence J. Lucas Law Firm.
CLICK HERE to review the complete text (.doc) of the complaint filed.