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Maughan v. Vilsack

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20014
Nos. 4:14-CV-0007, (D. Idaho, 01/17/2014) (Lodge, J.)

A district court denied environmental groups' motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's wolf trapping and hunting program in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area. Since December 2013, seven gray wolves have been killed under the program. The groups argued that the U.S. Forest Service did not undertake any environmental review, permitting review, or interagency consultation nor secure the requisite approval needed to undertake such a program in violation the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the Wilderness Act, NEPA, and special use regulations. But the groups failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits. The NFMA's consistency requirement does not apply because the action complained of here is that of the state, not the Forest Service. Nor has any final agency action been taken in regards to the Wilderness Act, as the Forest Service has not yet determined whether the state's activities are in conflict with other resource use or wilderness values. Similarly, because the program is a state-regulated activity, the state's use of a bunkhouse and airstrip may not be subject to a special permit requirement. If a special permit is required, the Forest Service has discretion as to how to enforce that requirement in the first instance. Nor has any major federal action occurred mandating NEPA review. In addition, the record shows that the program will not result in the loss of the species as a whole, and it does not appear that the groups have suffered an irreparable injury due to the defendants' failure to undertake any mandatory environmental review. The court, therefore, denied the motions.