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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Environmental groups seek immediate protection for Northern Rockies gray wolves

 A gray wolf in Wyoming
Eric Cole
A gray wolf in Wyoming

Advocacy groups are asking the federal government to issue emergency protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, the only gray wolf population not on the Endangered Species List.

Ten groups and individuals filed a petition Tuesday pushing back against wolf-hunting laws in the region and asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to relist the region’s gray wolves on a temporary, emergency basis.

A federal judge last monthrestored protections for gray wolves outside of the Northern Rockies, less than two years after the Trump administration delisted them.

Matthew Koehler with WildEarth Guardians takes a hard stance against hunting native predators like the gray wolf as both a spokesperson and a hunter.

“We’re taught as part of ethical hunting that you eat what you kill,” he said. “And I don’t know a lot of people eating wolf.”

The petition is part of pushback from conservation groups, wildlife biologists and advocates in response to new laws Idaho and Montana passed last year that relaxed wolf hunting regulations.

Koehler said a similar petition that groups filed in 2021 went unaddressed.

Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks estimates there are more than 1,000 wolves in the state, ten times the number of wolves more than two decades ago due to a concentrated population recovery effort.

The state successfully applied to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List and took over management in 2011.

Montana’s current management laws aim to reduce the wolf population in the state to a “sustainable” level, but no fewer than 15 breeding pairs.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the agency is examining the protection status of gray wolf populations and expects to finish its evaluation by the end of September.

Copyright 2022 Yellowstone Public Radio. To see more, visit Yellowstone Public Radio.

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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