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Lawsuit alleges Montana wolf hunting policies violate state and federal laws

istoke grey wolf

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday alleging that Montana’s wolf hunting and trapping policies violate state and federal laws.

WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote filed the suit in the First Judicial District Court in Lewis and Clark County. The lawsuit comes in the middle of Montana’s wolf hunting season, with wolf trapping set to start in a month.

The suit claims that the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department and the Fish and Wildlife Commission relied on outdated and insufficient scientific data to authorize the wolf hunt. In their August meeting, the commission authorized the killing of 456 wolves for the 2022/2023 season, which is about 40 percent of the state’s wolf population.

The lawsuit also alleges that the state is defying its responsibility to manage wildlife for the benefit of the public, and that it oversteps its management authority by allowing wolf hunting on the boundaries of federal lands.

Montana’s wolf population lost its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act in 2011. The plaintiffs say the state never updated Montana’s 2002 wolf plan, which is required to be reviewed every five years.

Montana FWP declined to comment, saying that it has not been formally served with the suit and does not comment on the ongoing litigation. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission also did not immediately respond to MTPR’s request for comment.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.