WildEarth Guardians

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Challenging the Federal Government’s Wildlife-Killing Program in Montana

WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Dept. of Agric. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS Wildlife Services”), et. al.
Won, Settlement Victory
Case No.
Case 9:19-cv-00187-DLC
Date Filed
November 19, 2019
State, Venue
Montana, Federal District Court of Montana (Missoula Division)
Jennifer R. Schwartz (lead), Sarah McMillan
In a major win for Montana’s wildlife, WildEarth Guardians settled its lawsuit against USDA’s Wildlife Services (“Wildlife Services”) today, after the federal program agreed to severely curtail its reckless slaughter of native wildlife and use of cruel tools such as snares, traps, and poisons. The settlement requires that these protections remain in place pending the program’s completion of a detailed and public environmental review of its work.

Here’s the highlights:

  • No wildlife killing/damage control in any of the following specially protected areas:Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service, ACECs, RNAs, Wild & Scenic River corridors, National Park Service Lands, and National Wildlife Refuges;
  • No killing cougars and black bears on any federal lands;
  • No more M-44s (sodium cyanide bombs) on all public lands and also all private lands in 41 (of 56) counties;
  • No more gas cartridges to kill denning wildlife like coyotes, fox, and prairie dogs; Compound 1080; and DRC-1339 (avicide) on all public lands;
  • No more of the super heinous “Quick-kill Body-grip Traps” or other Conibear-style traps;
  • No more using neck snares for targeting black bears and grizzly bears;
  • No more foot snares without breakaway cables and no more foot-hold traps without offset or padded jaws so nontarget species don’t get killed by these devices;
  • Individual wolves may only be targeted in response to confirmed livestock depredations and all wolf traps will be checked every 24 hours;
  • Increased trap check times for all traps set for wildlife damage from March 1-November 30 (will be checked on a “2-2-3” schedule);
  • Increased public transparency:  APHIS-Wildlife Services’ must make publicly available on its state-specific website all the key details of its wildlife damage control work in MT (“take” reports for wolves and grizzlies; e.g. detailed accounts of species/land class/reason for control measures, and any nonlethal efforts). Previously, much of this information was only available through formal Freedom of Information Act requests, which typically take several months, if not years, for USDA to fulfill.