Trap Free Montana is involved in multiple litigation cases. Learn more about these and track progress on any updates below.

Federal wildlife-killing program challenged in Montana

On behalf of Trap Free Montana, WildEarth Guardians, and Western Watershed Project, the Western Environmental Law Center is challenging the federal wildlife-killing program.

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Wolf Relisting Decision – Notice of Intent (NOI)

A Notice of Intent was filed January 18, 2023 concerning the delayed USWFWS decision for the wolf relisting petition. The decision was due in July 2022. TIMES UP!

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Trap Free Montana & Wolves of the Rockies vs. Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, Fish & Wildlife Commission Regarding Change of Wolf Regulations

Summary: Trap Free Montana filed a lawsuit with Wolves of the Rockies against Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission in December 2021. Changes had been made to the 2021 Montana wolf regulations without public participation. These changes involved the use of infrared and other additional night hunting aids and the removal in the Montana 2021 wolf regulations of the prohibition to aerial spot and shoot wolves. The complaint was later amended to address further related concerns. Judge McMahon denied the temporary and preliminary injunction, but confirmed it is illegal to hunt wolves with the use of aircraft under federal law. For the 2022 wolf regulations, the F&W Commission agreed to insert the federal prohibition. As of early 2023, the case remains open.

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Prior to the 2022 wolf setting regulations, at the request of Trap Free Montana, our attorney sent a letter to the department and the commission reminding them of the federal law prohibiting the use of aircraft. Subsequently, during the August 2022 commission meeting, the commission motioned for the reinsertion of the prohibition again into the 2022 wolf regulations and it passed unanimously. The 2022 Montana Wolf & Furbearer Regulations state,

Airborne Hunting – is generally prohibited under federal law, see 16 USC 742j-1.

UPDATE: In March 2023, Wolves of the Rockies and Trap Free Montana reached a settlement agreement with Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks department and the Commission on this case.

The department agreed no substantive changes to the wolf hunting and trapping regulations would be adopted through the RRAM, or other non-Commission body, and without the Commission’s approval after providing public notice and participation as required by law. The department agreed to recommend in the 2023 wolf regulations the federal law prohibiting the use of aerial use and the related fines.

Our settlement agreement has been posted on the FWP website for the 2023 wolf proposals.

COURT RULING: On July 4, 2023, Lewis and Clark county district court Hon. Judge Michael McMahon, ruled, “The Commission exceeded the Legislature’s statutory authorization to allow night hunting of wolves on private land with “artificial light or night vision scopes” by also authorizing, with no statutory basis, the use of thermal imaging which is synonymous with infrared.” The current permission to hunt wolves on private land with the use of artificial light or night vision scopes remains. However, the use of thermal or infrared imaging technology is now prohibited, “until and if such hunting becomes properly authorized by the Montana Legislature and Governor.” This ruling, in our favor, therefore reduces the ease to kill more wolves with additional unethical and unfair chase methodology.

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Idaho Case Challenges Impacts of Wolf Trapping Regulations

A WIN finally in Idaho for grizzlies, wolves, and indiscriminate victims of traps and snares set for wolves! The court’s decision will stop trapping and snaring in Idaho’s Panhandle, Clearwater, Salmon, and Upper Snake regions between March 1 and November 30 on public and private lands to prevent the unlawful take of grizzly bears which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. March 20,2024

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Trap Free Montana, along with ~ a dozen others, is a party to a lawsuit in Idaho, filed December 2021 on our behalf by EarthJustice concerning Idaho’s new and aggressive 2021 wolf regulations will lead to injury and death of ESA protected grizzlies and Canada lynx.

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The temporary and preliminary injunctions were denied. The hearing is expected to occur later in the summer of 2023.

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