Western Watersheds Project has filed a federal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, saying the federal agency hasn’t responded to its Freedom of Information Act requests for documents detailing its activities in killing wildlife in Idaho. Talasi Brooks, an attorney with Advocates for the West, which is representing the conservation group in the case, said, “The Freedom of Information Act’s basic purpose is to open agency action to the light of public scrutiny. Wildlife Services has never disclosed the full nature, extent and environmental impacts of its Idaho operations. We hope this lawsuit will force the agency to produce the information requested so we can make sure Idahoans know what Wildlife Services is up to in our state.”
Wildlife Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, is in charge of dealing with wildlife conflicts; it’s the agency the Idaho Fish & Game Department contracts with to kill problem wolves. In March, for example, Idaho Fish & Game reported that it had hired Wildlife Services to shoot 19 wolves from aircraft in the Lolo region in the previous month, as part of an ongoing effort to improve elk survival in the region.
Western Watersheds Project is a non-profit environmental conservation group based in Hailey, with 1,500 members and operations in six western states. It focuses on the negative impacts of livestock grazing on public land, and has brought numerous lawsuits. WWP’s founder and executive director for 21 years, Jon Marvel, retired in February of 2014; he was replaced as executive director by Travis Bruner, who had previously served as the group’s public lands director. You can read the lawsuit complaint here; it was filed today in U.S. District Court in Idaho.