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Montana judge restores state wolf hunting regulations

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FILE - In this aerial file photo provided by the National Park Service is the Junction Butte wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., on March 21, 2019. A Montana judge has temporarily restricted wolf hunting and trapping near Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and imposed statewide limits on killing the predators.
FILE - In this aerial file photo provided by the National Park Service is the Junction Butte wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., on March 21, 2019. A Montana judge has temporarily restricted wolf hunting and trapping near Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and imposed statewide limits on killing the predators. (National Park Service via AP, File) Photo Gallery

HELENA, Mont. — A Montana judge on Tuesday lifted a temporary restraining order that limited wolf hunting and trapping, saying there is nothing to suggest rules now in place will make wolf populations unsustainable in the short term.

District Judge Christopher Abbott also rejected concerns raised by environmentalists that harvesting up to six wolves just outside Yellowstone National Park could harm the park’s wolf population and conservation efforts.

The decision dissolves a temporary restraining order that Abbott issued on Nov. 16 reducing individual bag limits from 20 to five and blocking the use of snare traps.

The hunting rules set by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission are in effect, including allowing individuals to take up to 10 wolves by hunting and 10 by trapping.

“The state has a legitimate interest in managing wolves … that accounts for all the interests at stake, including those of hunters and ranchers,” Abbott wrote.

The groups that sued over the state’s wolf hunting regulations had questioned the state’s method for estimating wolf populations. But Abbot said those estimates were not so unreliable that this year’s quota of 456 wolves would trigger irreparable harm.

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