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Wolverine Season Effectively Ended After Judge Cancels Trapping Hearing
Sherlock's decision leaves a temporary restraining order in place until issue is resolved
Shutterstock photo
The state's wolverine trapping season will not resume this year after a district judge canceled a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for this week.

Montana District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock on Monday granted a joint motion from the State of Montana and conservation groups to cancel a hearing scheduled for Jan. 10. The decision leaves a temporary restraining order in place until March 1, when both sides must either reach an agreement or decide a new hearing needs to be scheduled. Montana’s wolverine trapping season, the only remaining season in the Lower 48, was scheduled for Dec. 1-Feb. 15, or until quotas for each region were met.

“Common sense prevailed,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center in Helena, which is representing a coalition of conservation groups that sued Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to halt the season.

“With the 2012-2013 wolverine trapping season effectively over, new leadership at the state, and the likely federal listing of wolverines as a threatened species in the coming months, Montana is well positioned to take a leading role in wolverine conservation in the Lower 48. I hope the state takes advantage of this opportunity.”

Sherlock issued a temporary restraining order halting the season on Nov. 30. An injunction hearing was scheduled to address issues raised in a lawsuit against FWP.

The lawsuit claims that FWP is allowing the wolverine population to be damaged through trapping. The conservation groups had previously asked FWP to end trapping until the wolverine population becomes healthy enough that it would not need federal protection. In December 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that wolverines deserved federal protection, particularly because of climate change’s detrimental effects on their cold, alpine habitat.

Bishop said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could issue a proposed rule to list wolverines as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in the coming weeks. The agency is expected to send the proposed rule to the federal register by Jan. 18, according to Bishop.

Bishop and the Western Environmental Law Center out of Helena filed the lawsuit in early November on behalf of the Helena Hunters and Anglers Association, Friends of the Wild Swan, Montana Ecosystem Defense Council, Native Ecosystems Council, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the Swan View Coalition, Wild Earth Guardians, Footloose Montana and George Wuerthner.

Sherlock’s order can be found online.

RELATED: Lower 48’s Last Wolverine Trapping Season Heads to Court
On 01-08-13, Mtwatch commented....
QUESTIONS:  With trapping still allowed in Montana, how will they protect the wolverine?  Do you really think the trapper is going to tell anyone?  Is the MTFWP going to stand by these traps and shooo away the wolverines??? YEAHHH RIGHT!!!!
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