The Montanans are reacting to the changes ordered for the wolf hunting season

GREAT FALLS – On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, a Lewis & Clark County District Court judge issued an injunction affecting some of Montana’s wolf hunting and trapping statutes. The changes take effect immediately.

According to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the changes described in the injunction are as follows:

  • Reinstates Wolf Management Units (WMU) 110, 313 and 316 as they existed in the 2020 Wolf Regulations. WMU 110 borders Glacier National Park and WMUs 313 and 316 are north of Yellowstone National Park
  • Restores the quotas for WMU 110, 313, 316 as they existed in the 2020 Wolf Regulations, which is two wolves in WMU 110 and one wolf each in WMU 313 and 316. Currently, one wolf has been harvested in WMU 313 and no wolves have been harvested in WMU 316 and 110. Wolf hunting and trapping in WMU 313 is now closed.
  • Limits all hunters and trappers to taking a total of five wolves per person per season.
  • Bans the use of snares as a legal method of capturing wolves.

FWP will present legal arguments in this case in a hearing scheduled for November 28th. The court allowed the injunction to expire on November 29.

“We have a healthy and stable wolf population in Montana,” said FWP Director Hank Worsech. “We have proven we can manage wolves statewide and will continue to do so. We will comply with the judge’s order and look forward to the opportunity to defend good science and management strategies.”

The lawsuit, brought by conservation groups — Project Coyote and WildEarth Guardians — is not supported by all Montans. Trina Bradley is the executive director of Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group, a non-profit group. was founded in 2021 and supports ranchers of the Rocky Mountain Front. Their focus is on helping ranchers deal with predators. She says there are a few ways wolves affect livestock: “There’s the direct losses that we have from wolves, like killing livestock, killing livestock guardians. The other problems we have are the indirect losses, so there’s the stress on the cattle, they’re not eating as well, they’re not breeding as well as they should because they’re stressed all the time, they’re using theirs Not so good grazing. Wolves are a big headache for ranchers.”

Farmers and ranchers often work long hours and have little time to hunt. Bradley explains, “Without the efforts of hunters and trappers, or permission, to remove these wolves. There are so many wolves in the landscape for these producers to contend with. Unlike grizzly bears, wolves don’t hibernate so it’s an issue 365 days a year.” Trina Bradley hired a range rider for 3 producers on the Rocky Mountain Front this summer. The range rider helps keep predators off livestock. His two largest Predators were grizzlies and wolves The ranchers had 100% returns on all their calves from the summer pasture and she says this is a first for all of them.

Michelle Lute, Carnivore Conservation Director at Project Coyote and daughter of 3 generations of farmers, says that a stable wolf population does not indicate an increase in conflict: “More biodiversity is helpful for all of us, especially for farmers who grow our food is real.” very beneficial for keeping wolves alive and lethal control does nothing to prevent conflict. An increase or even a stable wolf population does not correlate with increasing conflict. According to Lute, the goal of their litigation is not only to protect wolves, but also the cascading effect on Montana’s ecosystems: “If you take this apex predator out of the system, that top-down regulation and behavior of prey changes riparian areas and leads to.” Changes right down to water quality.” According to Lute, there are very few instances where wolf populations are stable at ecologically effective densities due to exploitation and hunting.

The nonprofit aims to use science-based evidence to inform Montana’s wolf management and policies. Lizzy Pennock, a carnivore coexistence advocate with WildEarth Guardians, is an attorney assisting the case against Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the State of Montana and the Fish and Wildlife Association later this month. Pennock states, “We allege that they violated the Montana Administrative Procedures Act and the Montana Constitution. They effectively modified the 2002 wolf management plan to allow the use of a new population model without forcing it through public participation.” She says the state of Montana has never updated the 2002 wolf management plan, although it is required to be reviewed every 5 years. The groups argue that Montana’s constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment includes wildlife.

During the 2021 wolf hunting season, 25 Yellowstone wolves were killed, including 19 in Montana. Pennock: “The National Park Service is governed by the National Parks Organic Act, which essentially requires the National Park Service to provide some level of wildlife conservation. If wildlife cannot survive and thrive in our national parks, where can it?” Plaintiffs argue that the way the Montana legislature has dealt with it compromises the National Park Service’s ability to meet its legal obligations. Pennock says the claims against other land managers, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, are similar, and they argue their legal obligations to manage viable wildlife populations are preempted by the state’s permitting of wolf hunting and trapping on state lands.