A district court judge in Helena today granted a temporary restraining order against the state’s wildlife agency that blocks the opening of Montana’s wolverine trapping season until at least early next year. The season was set to open Saturday.
The restraining order was sought by a coalition of groups trying to halt wolverine trapping in Montana. Helena District Judge Jeffery Sherlock granted the order. A follow up hearing is set for Jan. 10, 2013.
The eight-group coalition, led by the Western Environmental Law Center, wants to ban wolverine trapping until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines if the wolverine will be placed on the federal list of threatened and endangered species.
Ken McDonald, wildlife bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena, said Montana’s quota of five wolverines is based on sound wildlife management science that doesn’t put the state’s wolverine population at risk. “Our management is conservative, sustainable and reasonable,” McDonald said.
In 2010, USFWS determined that threats to the wolverine included climate change but declined to list it as an endangered or threatened species due to higher priorities. At the time, USFWS suggested that the wolverine population is stable or expanding and that between 250-300 wolverines inhabit the northern Rocky Mountains.
McDonald said FWP will immediately begin to examine the restraining order and consider legal options but for now trappers are prohibited from pursuing wolverines in Montana.
For more information visit FWP’s website at: fwp.mt.gov. Click Hunting then Trapping.
Image courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks