Suit halts coyote killings

When the federal government refused to shoot coyotes from the air last year, ranchers in Idaho appealed to the state Department of Agriculture for help. The agency responded by issuing seven aerial permits to gunners, who killed 193 coyotes. This year was different: Idaho's attorney general recently shut down the state's aerial predator-control program after the Idaho-based Committee for Rational Predator Management protested a permit issued to gunner Bob Mathers. Sheep ranchers in southern Idaho wanted Mathers to kill coyotes on federal lands. Predator committee spokesman Dan Casali said Mathers' permit "made a mockery" of federal agencies by disregarding federal law. The group's attorney, Debra Kronenberg, also said Idaho violated state law by failing to develop rules for issuing aerial hunting permits. The Idaho Department of Agriculture, however, continued to ignore protests until Kronenberg filed notice of a lawsuit. The Idaho attorney general then voided Mathers' permit and ordered the state not to issue permits until rules were written. For more information contact Dan Casali at the Committee for Rational Predator Management (208/726-5120) or the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (208/334-3240).