As of November 15, a Montana judge has reinstated wolf hunting restrictions near Yellowstone National Park, effective immediately. Just last year, the state relaxed the regulations for hunting and trapping wolves near Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Montana officials allotted hunters and trappers to bag a total of 450 wolves for the 2021-2022 season. However, they soon had to shut down hunting near the parks after hunters took 23 Yellowstone wolves, most of which were in Montana.
Since then, folks have become concerned that the predator population may suffer permanently from the change.
Last month, wolf conservationists sued state officials over the change in hunting restrictions, specifically taking aim at the Legislation-passed law that allowed the use of snares. Also under fire was the law that allowed each individual to hunt 10 wolves and trap 10 more for a total of 20 season kills.
Ahead of the current trapping season, State District Court Judge Christopher Abbott ordered that the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks reduce the wolf bag limit to five per person. In addition, trappers would not be able to use snares beginning November 28. Officials also had to reinstate stricter regulations for hunting wolves near Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. Abbott hopes that the ruling will prevent the “acceleration” of wolf kills as trapping season continues.
“At least some hunting activity can proceed without severe impacts on wolf populations at least long enough to afford the state an opportunity to be heard,” Abbott stated.
Montana Governor Speaks out About Ruling for Wolf Hunting Near Yellowstone National Park
For WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote, the rule revival is a small yet auspicious win. These conservationists hope that the wolf population will be able to bounce back and continue to balance prey populations such as elk, deer and moose.
“This is a promising step in the right direction, and we will continue using all means necessary to end the senseless, politically motivated slaughter of Montana’s beloved wolves,” said Lizzy Pennock, of WildEarth Guardians.
On the other side of the spectrum, though, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte expressed his frustration with the matter.
“The legislature makes laws, the Fish and Wildlife Commission sets rules based on both those laws and science, and FWP implements those rules,” he wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately, another activist judge overstepped his bounds today to align with extreme activists.”
Meanwhile, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Hank Worsech confirmed his confidence in the state’s ability to maintain a “healthy and stable population of wolves in Montana.”
“We’ve proven we can manage wolves across the state and will continue to do so,” said Worsech in a statement. “We will comply with the judge’s order and look forward to the opportunity to defend good science and management strategies.”