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Judge lifts order, restores looser wolf hunting regulations

A wolf on the shore of Yellowstone Lake
Neal Herbert
Yellowstone National Park/Flickr
A wolf on the shore of Yellowstone Lake

A Helena judge on Tuesday dissolved a temporary restraining order lowering some wolf hunting and trapping limits.

Lewis and Clark District Court Judge Christopher Abbott's rulingreinstates the 2022 regulations the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved earlier this year.

The temporary order had re-established the 2020 hunting quotas in districts bordering Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, banned the use of snares in trapping and lowered the number of wolves a person could kill in a season from 20 to 5.

In addition to ending the order, Abbott also denied Wild Earth Guardian’s and Project Coyote’s request for a preliminary injunction amid their lawsuit against the state.

The conservation groups argue that the 2022 regulations would harm the state’s wolf population. The statewide quota Fish and Wildlife commissioners approved in August authorizes the hunting and trapping of nearly 40% of Montana’s estimated 1,144 wolves, including up to six in a hunting unit north of Yellowstone National Park.

“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,” Lizzy Pennock with WildEarth Guardians said in a statement posted on the organization's Facebook page.

Wolf hunting season is underway, and trapping began in some parts of the state Monday.