A Montana judge has overruled state officials in their effort to curb wolf hunting near Yellowstone National Park because of concerns that too many animals used in research are being killed by hunters.
In early December, Montana officials ordered its state's hunters to silence their guns in some areas north of Yellowstone in the wake of several wolf shootings just outside of the park's borders. A wolf known as 832F was found Dec. 6 outside of Yellowstone. The wolf was described as a "rock star" because of her popularity among Yellowstone tourists, and wildlife photographer Jimmy Jones even called the animal "the most famous wolf in the world."
832F was one of eight wolves fitted with GPS collars that were killed in November and early December. Data from the collars suggested that the wolves rarely ventured beyond the park and then only for brief periods. Montana wildlife commissioners decided on Dec. 10 to shut down hunting and trapping in areas to the east and west of the town of Gardiner, Mont., due to the killings.
But the Associated Press reports that Montana Judge Nels Swandal issued a restraining order Wednesday, allowing huting and trapping to resume in the area. In his order, Swandal sided with sporting groups that argued that the public was not given enough chance to weigh in on the closures. Swandal ordered the State of Montana "to immediately reinstitute and allow hunting and trapping of wolves in all areas of Park County."
A Monday, Jan. 14, hearing has been scheduled in the case.