In the weeks following the filing of a lawsuit seeking to have Montana’s elk hunting regulations overturned, both the state and conservation groups have sought to oppose the litigation while Democratic lawmakers have proposed an extraordinary level of public involvement should the state enter into a legal settlement.
In April, United Property Owners of Montana filed the lawsuit in Fergus County District Court against the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. In recent weeks FWP has responded to the lawsuit, a coalition of hunting and access groups has sought to intervene in the case, and the state has filed a motion opposing the intervention. Democratic lawmakers have also asked the governor’s office to make a potential settlement public before finalization.
The lawsuit claims the state is in violation of a law requiring elk to be managed to predetermined population targets, called “objectives,” but that numbers currently exceed objective by 50,000 animals. FWP is required to adhere to the law regardless if area landowners allow public access for hunting, the lawsuit states.
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