A Montana judge has issued a last-minute restraining order blocking a trapping season for the fierce but imperiled wolverine that had been set to start Saturday.
District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock said Friday that potential damage to the rare species' population outweighed the loss of any recreational trapping opportunities.
Montana is the only state in the Lower 48 that allows wolverine trapping, with an annual quota of five animals.
Conservation groups had sued Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in October to halt the practice. They cited a federal government finding that says climate change may threaten the predators' long-term survival.
There are an estimated 250 to 300 wolverines in the Lower 48. Most are in Montana and Idaho but some have ranged into Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming and Colorado.