The latest bounce


A federal judge in Idaho has ordered the state to stop killing badgers, ravens and coyotes. Last February, in an attempt to increase numbers of declining sage grouse, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission authorized Wildlife Services to kill the bird's predators (HCN, 2/26/01: Idaho predators are under the gun). The court ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by the Committee for Idaho's High Desert, the Predator Defense Institute of Oregon, and the Boulder, Colo.-based Animal Law Center.

Predator control was shot down in Colorado, also (HCN, 2/12/01: Coyote killing continues). In late March, the state's House Appropriations Committee killed funding for an eight-year Division of Wildlife study that had been approved by the Legislature. The study would have allowed agents to shoot coyotes in an effort to boost mule deer populations, and would have cost $365,000 for the first year alone.

The U.S. Department of Interior is facing some unlikely opposition to developing oil and gas on public land near Jackson Hole, Wyo. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., traditionally a proponent of multiple use, says he supports a proposal by national forest supervisor Kniffy Hamilton to ban drilling on 370,000 acres of the Bridger-Teton National Forest (HCN, 3/26/01: Forest supervisor faces down oil drilling).

Federal officials can no longer blame an "activist judge" for their bad fortune in a class action lawsuit over mismanaged Indian money. In 1999, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the Interior and Treasury departments to account for billions of dollars held in trust for Native Americans (HCN, 1/31/00: Judge rules on Indian money mess). Government lawyers appealed, but in February, a federal appeals court agreed with Lamberth, ordering the agencies to account for the missing money. The government can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court until April 23.

Forty-nine Republican senators don't want former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., to retire (HCN, 10/23/00: Stalking Slade). The entire coalition of Senate Republicans, except for Arizona Sen. John McCain, has asked President George Bush to make Gorton, 73, a federal judge. Gorton, who last November lost a re-election bid to Democrat Maria Cantwell, was called a "20th century Indian fighter" by many Native American tribes in the Northwest.

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