MSGA Files a Motion to Intervene in Coyote Trapping Litigation

by Andy Schwab

Helena, Mont. – Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) filed a motion to intervene in Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force v. State of Montana, in partnership with the Montana Wool Growers Association (MWGA) and the Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF). This litigation began in November of 2023, when the plaintiffs sued the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission for their August 2023 approved wolf trapping season regulations. The plaintiffs asserted that wolf snaring and trapping is reasonably certain to cause harm to grizzly bears, which would be in violation of Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act. A District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction, slashing the wolf trapping season to only 45 days, from January 1 to February 15. 

On April 15, 2024, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enjoin the trapping and snaring of coyotes in occupied grizzly bear habitat when bears are reasonably certain to be out of their dens. This means that the judge now must consider whether or not to limit coyote trapping and snaring. If granted, all trapping and snaring of coyotes and wolves by anyone and for any reason would be prohibited between February 15 and January 1 throughout grizzly bear habitat. 

“MSGA believes this lawsuit will have implications for livestock producers in Montana and potentially states across the west where grizzly bears exist,” noted Raylee Honeycutt, MSGA Executive Vice President. “Coyote trapping and snaring are proven methods for controlling one of the most damaging livestock predators. MSGA believes protecting this management tool is crucial for Montana’s ranching industry to continue to protect their livestock.” 

The judge has set oral argument for June 25, 2024, in Missoula, MT.

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MSGA – 2024

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