The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced Monday that they were discontinuing efforts to stop gray wolf hunting and trapping near Yellowstone National Park.

The agency had previously suspended hunting because several collared wolves had been found shot outside the park. Hunters argued that not enough notice was given before the closure took effect, and a local judge agreed by issuing an injunction against the hunting closure.

FWP commission chairman Bob Ream said it would take several weeks at least before the agency could challenge the injunction, by which Montana’s wolf season would’ve long ended. FWP officials say that while there are concerns, the unexpectedly high amount of wolves harvested shouldn’t have an effect on the park’s overall population. Hunters have amounted to 108 wolves taken statewide while trappers claimed 66 for a combined total of 174 so far. Montana’s wolf season ends February 28.

The FWP hopes to cull the local wolf population by 200 or so animals because of attacks on both livestock and natural prey animals like elk. The gray wolf only recently returned to Montana and roughly 650 of the animals live near the Yellowstone area.

Image from Ed Coyle (Ed Coyle Photography) on the flickr Creative Commons

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