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Montana judge lifts wolf hunting restrictions as trapping season begins

Dennis Matheson/Flickr Creative Commons

News brief: 

A Montana judge restored wolf hunting regulations statewide Tuesday two weeks after temporarily restricting wolf hunting and trapping, especially in areas surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Christopher Abbott said there’s not enough evidence to suggest that the species’ population is in danger in the short term due to current hunting regulations.

The plaintiffs in the ongoing case, WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote, argue otherwise after Montana wildlife officials authorized increased wolf harvesting and allowed for more effective hunting methods during the 2021-2022 hunting season. 329 wolves were killed in Montana last season – approximately 30 percent of the estimated population of 1,100 animals in the state. Additionally, hunters killed 23 wolves from Yellowstone National Park beyond the park's borders

Idaho also adopted aggressive wolf hunting regulations last year through the state legislature.

While controversy over wolves continues to rage in the Northern Rockies – even entering the cultural zeitgeist with the popular TV show “Yellowstone” incorporating the shooting of a wolf from the national park – some think compromise is possible as the species pushes into other parts of the region.

“I don't think it has to be either wolves can have a sustainable population or people and rural communities can thrive,” said Brian Kurzel of the National Wildlife Federation. “I think there's a way to do both if we’re really listening to different communities and understanding the realities that people face.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is currently a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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