Breaking! Court Denies Preliminary Injunction To Protect Wolves, Allowing The Killing Of 40% Of Montana’s Wolf Population

This week, a Montana state court denied a preliminary injunction request to significantly curb wolf hunting and trapping methods and quotas in Montana until the merits of a lawsuit from two conservation groups can be heard.

The news means that Montana’s efforts to kill 456 wolves—nearly 40% of the state’s entire wolf population, based on potentially unsound modeling—during the 2022-2023 hunting and trapping season move forward unabated. On November 15, 2022, the court granted some protections for wolves under a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that was in place until the judge’s ruling came out this week, which dissolved the TRO.

“We are devastated that the court has allowed countless more wolves—including Yellowstone wolves—to be killed under the unscientific laws and regulations we are challenging,” said Lizzy Pennock, the Montana-based carnivore coexistence advocate at WildEarth Guardians. “We will keep fighting for Montana’s wolves in the courtroom while our case carries on and outside the courtroom in every way possible.”

The lawsuit claims that there are significant flaws in the population model used to estimate the total number of wolves in the state. Since the 456 quota for the 2022-2023 season relies upon a flawed population model, reaching the quota could have devastating consequences on the state’s wolf population. Per allegations in the motion, “Montana does not have an accurate picture of how many wolves are living in Montana and cannot sustainably and legally manage the species through another wolf hunt this winter.”

So far, hunters have killed 69 wolves this season in Montana. The court’s refusal to issue an injunction this week means that an additional 387 wolves could be killed between now and March 15, 2023, via hunting, trapping, snaring, shooting wolves over bait, and via hunting at night on private lands with technology including night-vision scopes.

This week’s order also removes the two-wolf kill quota in the wolf management unit (WMU) west of Glacier National Park that was temporarily in place under the terms of the TRO, and reinstates the six-wolf kill quota in the WMU just north of Yellowstone National Park. This means that an additional five Yellowstone wolves could be killed this winter. Last year, recreational hunters and trappers killed 25 Yellowstone wolves, with 19 killed in Montana.

“Today, Montana’s wolves and wild places lost an important battle but the greater campaign to protect North America’s wildlife and evidence-based democratic decision-making continues,” explained Michelle Lute, PhD in wolf conservation and carnivore conservation director for Project Coyote, a project of Earth Island Institute. “What happens to wolves in Montana doesn’t stay in Montana because wolves and the benefits they bring aren’t restricted by geographic boundaries. Protecting a robust source population of wolves in the state has broader implications for wolf populations, genetic exchange and healthy wildlands in surrounding states, national parks and Canada.”

“The #Relistwolves Campaign is outraged that the Montana Court has decided to overlook Montana’s plan to kill 456 wolves – nearly 40% of their wolf population based on an outdated and skewed population model. Today, conservationists and wildlife advocates were dealt a blow, but with Montana’s wolf hunting season underway, we will push back even harder,” Leslie Williams and Samantha Attwood, founding members of The #RelistWolves Campaign, told WAN.

“We applaud the wildlife conservation organizations who are pursuing these legal remedies and will continue to fight alongside these groups – demanding the immediate relisting of wolves in Montana and all the Northern Rocky states under the Endangered Species Act,” concluded Williams and Attwood.

Please take action by asking your representatives to put pressure on Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and President Biden to #RelistWolves, HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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