BOZEMAN, Mont.— Citing the risk to other imperiled animals, Earthjustice sent a notice of intent to sue the state of Montana today for implementing new laws permitting snaring of wolves and expanding trapping seasons to reduce the wolf population.
These new laws increase the likelihood that grizzly bears and Canada lynx, both federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, may be injured or killed by snares and other traps set for wolves.
Earthjustice sent the notice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, Humane Society of the United States, International Wildlife Coexistence Network, Sierra Club, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and Wolves of the Rockies.
“The Montana legislature and governor’s policies on wolf management are not about hunting, they are state-sponsored eradication the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 19th century,” said Ben Scrimshaw, Earthjustice attorney. “Traps and snares frequently capture, injure, and kill non-target animals, and to increase this activity in known grizzly and lynx habitat is going to result in a lot of dead federally protected wildlife.”
“Montana’s expansion of strangulation snares and other traps is an appalling attack on the wolf population, but many other imperiled animals will also die,” said Andrea Zacccardi, a senior attorney at the Center. “These unscientific and aggressive laws threaten to kill various native wildlife, including federally protected grizzly bears and Canada lynx.”
“The cruelty of strangling neck snares and steel-jawed leghold traps has no place in the twenty-first century,” said Nichols Arrivo, an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States. “These barbaric and indiscriminate devices will inevitably turn dogs, grizzly bears and Canada lynx into casualties of Montana’s egregious war on wolves.”
“Montana's unwarranted, extreme new laws aimed at annihilating the wolf population are a sharp departure from the state's historically more reasoned, science-based approach to wildlife management,” said Bonnie Rice, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “The proliferation of strangling neck snares across Montana's landscape will not only injure and kill countless wolves, but also threatened species including grizzly bears and lynx, as well as domestic pets.”
“Montana’s new anti-wildlife laws recall the anti-predator hysteria that led to the near extirpation of wolves from the lower 48 states in the early 1900s,” said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington and Montana director for Western Watersheds Project. “These laws completely ignore science and agency professionals, codify the use of cruel and senseless wolf extermination measures, and will catch countless federally protected grizzly bears and Canada lynx in the crosshairs.”
“Montana’s legislature has declared a war on wolves and other wildlife that imperils even our wildest places,” said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “Citizens don’t have to sit back and let it happen. This notice sends the message that we won’t.”
“It was clear to us 10 years ago the Montana state management of wolves was based on special interest and irrational hatred,” said Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies. “The time is now to protect Montana wolves from commercialization and state management for future generations.”
Approved in May, Montana’s Senate Bill 314 could lead to the slaughter of more than 85% of the state’s wolves. The law pushes the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to authorize hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves through baiting, trapping and night hunts using night-vision scopes and spotlighting.
In addition, Montana House Bill 224 allows trapping-license holders to snare multiple wolves during the state’s trapping seasons, while House Bill 225 expands the wolf-trapping season by four weeks, threatening grizzly bears in their non-denning season. Costs that wolf hunters and trappers incur during this prolonged season can be reimbursed under Senate Bill 267’s bounty program.
Montana has 60 days to respond to the notice.