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Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force and WildEarth Guardians sue to stop wolf trapping and snaring in Montana grizzly habitat

September 11, 2023
Joe Bushyhead, (505) 660-0284, jbushyhead@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Wildlife   Gray wolf, Grizzly bear
#EndTheWarOnWildlife, #EndangeredSpeciesAct, #PressStatement
MISSOULA, Mont. –– Two conservation organizations, the Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force and WildEarth Guardians, filed suit today in Federal District Court in Missoula against the State of Montana for violations of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The groups are challenging the State’s wolf trapping regulations, which illegally “take” threatened grizzly bears during the non-denning seasons. The suit seeks injunctive relief against the new regulations as well as an end to snaring in grizzly bear habitat.

The ESA definition of “take” is “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.” More than 20 Montana grizzly bears have been verified being caught in traps and snares set for wolves and coyotes. Numerous grizzly bears have been maimed to the point of losing claws, toes, feet, lower arms and some have died. The actual number of trapped grizzly bears is unknown and certainly much higher since captures and missing traps are almost never reported. Grizzly bears have a powerful sense of smell which makes them vulnerable to being attracted to and caught in baited traps from long distances.

“Montana is expanding its anti-predator campaign and the State views maimed and killed grizzly bears as collateral damage. Grizzly bears are being wounded by baited traps set for wolves and coyotes yet wolf trapping is being expanded in grizzly bear habitat during the non-denning seasons,” said Patty Ames, President of the Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force.

Ames noted that grizzly bears migrating to the Bitterroot ecosystem and between the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems will be particularly vulnerable to being caught in traps.

“Montana’s war on wolves causes collateral damage to native wildlife across the state,” said Joe Bushyhead, Endangered Species Attorney with WildEarth Guardians. “The damage to grizzly bears takes the form of missing toes and maimed limbs. The ESA prohibits this exact type of harm.”

Montana has a central role in the recovery of grizzly bears. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, grizzly bears are in all areas of Montana west of Billings. All or part of four Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones and the two Demographic Connectivity Areas are within Montana.

All grizzly bears are protected under the ESA regardless of their age, sex, reproductive status or whether they are inside or between the Recovery Areas.

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park, Neal Herbert photo


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