A federal agency agreed to temporarily limit how and where it kills wildlife that threaten livestock in Montana. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reached the settlement in federal court with WildEarth Guardians May 14.
The USDA’s Wildlife Services will spend the next year studying the environmental effects and risks of the practices it uses to kill predators in the state.
During the interim, Wildlife Services agreed to halt its use of M-44s on Montana’s public lands and in more than 40 counties. Critics say the controversial, spring-loaded devices intended to poison predators are unnecessary risks to wildlife and the public.
The settlement last Thursday comes after WildEarth Guardians sued Wildlife Services in November 2019, saying the agency used outdated environmental reviews of its work.
As part of the settlement, Wildlife Services agreed it will no longer kill black bears and cougars on federal land in Montana. It will also halt the use of certain types of snares and traps and check them more often.
The agency will only kill wolves after confirmed livestock predation and documented non-lethal attempts.
Wildlife Services agreed it would not kill wildlife in Montana’s specially protected areas, including designated Wilderness, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and Wild & Scenic River corridors.
Wildlife Services will also release yearly reports of its wildlife control. It will include the number and type of animals captured and reason given for their lethal removal.