get it home page promo

Local groups sue to stop wolverine trapping

2012-10-11T17:46:00Z 2012-10-11T17:46:51Z Local groups sue to stop wolverine trappingBy EVE BYRON Independent Record Helena Independent Record
October 11, 2012 5:46 pm  • 

Eight conservation groups and one individual are asking a Helena judge to stop Montana’s wolverine trapping season, saying their population is “imperiled” and that the animal is a candidate for protection under federal statutes.

The trapping season is set to begin Dec. 1, with a total of five wolverines allowed to be taken statewide. Wolverines are trapped for their fur.

The groups filed a formal petition in August asking Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to adopt a new rule ending the trapping of wolverines until they are no longer a candidate or listed species under the Endangered Species Act.

Neither the FWP Commission nor FWP Director Joe Maurier responded to the petition. But on Thursday, FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim said the current quota is sustainable and the state has no intention to harm the overall wolverine population.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in December 2010 that the wolverine deserves federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, but also said it could not undertake the necessary rulemaking process for lack of time, so the wolverine remains a “candidate” species awaiting protective status

“Montana state law requires Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to ‘assist in the maintenance or recovery’ of wolverines. We hoped to avoid litigation when we filed our petition in August. Unfortunately, the state refused to consider the science included in our petition and halt the needless trapping of these imperiled animals,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who is representing the groups. “So now we’re compelled to follow the only course left open to us, which is to seek judicial review.”

The lawsuit was filed in Lewis and Clark District Court by 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.

Montana is the only state in the Lower 48 that still allows the wolverine to be trapped. The state is home to between 100 and 175 animals

Mike Garrity, executive director of the Helena-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said their main home range is in Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, but they’re also found in the mountains around Helena.

“They’re in the Little Belt Mountains due west of here, and their travel corridor goes through the Big Belt Mountains, and along MacDonald Pass, to Lincoln, into the Scapegoat Wilderness Area and over to the Mission Mountains,” Garrity said. “They also follow the Continental Divide south.”

Wolverines require cold climates where deep snow remains into late May so females can dig secure dens in the snow to raise their young. The groups say those conditions are disappearing nationwide due to climate change, and that warming temperatures also are increasing the distance between viable habitat, making it more difficult for wolverines to reproduce.

“Trapping wolverine under these circumstances is making an already bleak situation worse,” Bishop said.

Gary Ingman, a board member of the Helena Hunters and Anglers Association, said that stopping wolverine trapping is the right thing to do – morally, scientifically, socially and ecologically.

“The biological models show that the current population levels are simply not self-sustaining and nowhere near high enough to provide recreational trapping opportunities in Montana,” Ingman added.

The complaint can be found online at www.westernlaw.org/sites/default/files/Complaint..Wolverine.Final_.October.11.2012.pdf.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076 or eve.byron@helenair.com

Follow Eve on Twitter@IR_EveByron

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editor@helenair.com. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

mother-tile

Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses

Featured Offers & Deals