Judge Clears Way for More Montana Wolf Hunting
Wolf hunting and trapping are back on after the latest legal ruling upholds the state's plans to use both methods to control wolf populations in the Treasure State.
The ruling is the latest turn in the legal battle by conservation groups to try and curtail wolf harvesting in Montana, an issue that has been ongoing ever since wolves were taken off the Endangered Species List more than a decade ago. This specific fight is over wolf hunting adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, questioning the management approach by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Two weeks ago the court issued a temporary restraining order against FWP which had turned the regulations back to the model used in 2020 for the hunting and trapping seasons.
Tuesday, District Court Judge Chris Abbott heard arguments in the case, eventually ruling against the motion to make the order permanent, saying the opponents hadn't shown there would be "irreparable injury" to the wolf populations. However, his ruling did contain some criticism for what he called FWP's "unreliable" management model.
The lawsuit will continue through the courts.
FWP says the ruling means wolf hunting is open across Montana, with the regulations in place for the 2022 season. That includes Management Unit 313, which borders Yellowstone and was being challenged in the suit. The quota there will be six wolves.
Trapping will remain closed in areas with "occupied grizzly bear habitat". Even with the onslaught of early cold weather this year, state biologists say bears are still active in "many areas", and trapping won't be allowed until after the end of December.