Lawsuit challenges helicopter use in Idaho wilderness area

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a decision by the U.S. Forest Service that allows more than 100 helicopter landings this winter in a central Idaho wilderness area so state wildlife officials can put tracking collars on elk.

Wilderness Watch and two other groups in the lawsuit filed Thursday say the federal agency is violating the Wilderness Act by allowing helicopters into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

The groups say they are also concerned that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's goal is to accumulate information to justify killing wolves in the wilderness area.

Fish and Game officials say the flights are needed to understand why elk populations have fallen.

The Forest Service didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday.