A controversial contest to kill as many wolves and coyotes as possible began at sunrise today—with $1,000 prizes for the overall winners and rifles for winners in the 10-13 and 14-17 age categories. The hunting derby is going ahead on Forest Service and private land over the next three days, but the size of the contest area was reduced by half after conservationists sued to stop it from being held on millions of acres of Bureau of Land Management land, reports the Boise Weekly. The contest was organized by a group calling itself Idaho for Wildlife, which promises that fur buyers will be on hand.
On its website, the group says it can't tell people not to hunt on BLM land, but the decision means "any predators taken on BLM land during the contest period cannot be entered into the competitive hunting event to win prizes or cash," Oregon Public Radio reports. The group predicts a "good turnout" for its "Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous," which organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity plan to keep fighting. Last year, around 100 hunters took part, killing 21 coyotes but no wolves, which were taken off the endangered list in 2011. (Similar events will be held in other states over the next few months, but not in California, which has banned predator-killing contests.)