Montana Judge Restores State Wolf Hunting Regulations
Helena, Mont. (AP — A judge on Nov. 29 lifted a temporary restraining order that limited wolf hunting and trapping in the state, 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 environmental groups that harvesting up to six wolves just outside Yellowstone National Park this season could harm the park’s wolf population and conservation efforts.
The decision dissolves a temporary restraining order that Abbott issued on Nov. 16 reducing indi vidual bag limits from 20 to five and blocking the use of snare traps.
The hunting rules set by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission in August take effect immediately, the agency said, including allowing individuals to take up to 10 wolves by hunting and 10 by trapping. The trapping season opened on Nov. 28 Montana’s wolf population is estimated at just over 1,100, a number that has remained steady over the past several years, even though 329 wolves were taken in 2021, Abbott noted. The 2021-22 quota had been set at 450 without any limits set near Yellowstone park. Twenty-three park wolves were killed last winter, including one by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte.
Wildlife Officials Break Up Long-Time Poaching Ring
Gallipolis, Ohio — A several-year investigation into a poaching ring that included the theft and illegal selling of venison intended for customers led to the arrest and subsequent convictions of 14 people – including one from Pennsylvania.
The investigation began in 2017 after the DOW received information that A&E Deer Processing, of Gallia County, was stealing meat from customers and selling it. Additional information was also received “that A&E was taking and processing deer without the proper documentation indicating the deer had been harvested legally,” said Meredith Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
The shop is owned and operated by five of the convicted individuals. In all, the defendants were charged with 122 counts of felonies and misdemeanors. The defendants paid a combined $70,013.14 in fines and restitution. Likewise, the group collectively received a combined hunting license revocation totaling 63 years and paid more than $6,700 in court costs.
The investigation began in 2017 after the DOW received information that A&E Deer Processing was stealing meat from customers and selling it. Additional information was also received “that A&E was taking and processing deer without the proper documentation indicating the deer had been harvested legally,” Gilbert said.
The investigation culminated in February 2020 with the execution of five search warrants in Gallia County by agents with the wildlife division. Officers also conducted 22 interviews in Ohio and three in Pennsylvania in order to “verify the alleged violations,” the wildlife division said in a press release.
Tree Thinning Plan Debated In Popular State Forest
Bass River Township, N.J. (AP) — Up to 2.4 million trees would be cut down as part of a project to prevent major wildfires in a federally protected New Jersey forest heralded as a unique environmental treasure. New Jersey environmental officials say the plan to kill trees in a section of Bass River State Forest is designed to better protect against catastrophic wildfires.
The plan has split environmentalists. Some say it is a reasonable and necessary response to the dangers of wildfires, while others say it is an unconscionable waste of trees that would no longer be able to store carbon as climate change imperils the globe.
The plan involves about 1,300 acres, a minuscule percentage of the 1.1-million-acre preserve. Most of the trees to be killed are 2 inches or less in diameter, the state said. Dense undergrowth of these smaller trees can act as “ladder fuel,’’ carrying fire from the forest floor up to the treetops, where flames can spread rapidly and wind can intensify to whip up blazes, the state Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement.
Tree thinning is an accepted form of forest management in many areas of the country, but some conservation groups say thinning does not work. Most of the cut trees will be ground into wood chips that will remain on the forest floor.