On Wednesday, a Montana judge ordered the state wildlife commission to “immediately reinstate and allow hunting and trapping of wolves” in the areas around Yellowstone National Park, which were temporarily shut down over concerns that collared wolves were being harvested.
The temporary ban, which was voted on by Montana wildlife commissioners on December 10, came five days before the start of trapping season and affected only areas east and west of the town of Gardiner in Park County, just north of Yellowstone.
Following the move, sporting groups and Rep. Alan Redfield of Park County filed a lawsuit against the commission saying that the public was not given enough chance to weigh in on the closures, according to the Associated Press.
Judge Nels Swandal’s decision overturned the closure, although a January 14 hearing was scheduled for the case. Swandal said the lack of prior public notice appears to break state law and violates the Montana Constitution. Wildlife commissioners said they were following the proper procedures on public notice before issuing the closure.
As of Wednesday, hunters had harvested 103 wolves this season in the rest of the state. Trappers have taken at least 32. There were several collared wolves shot in the area of contention that led to the December 10 closure. At least seven Yellowstone wolves were shot, five of which were wearing tracking collars for research purposes. Four other wolves with collars originally from Yellowstone, but at the time of their deaths living outside of the park, were also shot. Three other wolves without collars and whose origins were unknown were also shot near the park.
Map image from the National Park Service, featured slider image copyright iStockPhoto/Richard Seeley