Eight conservation and sportsmen groups are petitioning Montana to ban the trapping of wolverines.
The groups say the state is the only one in the contiguous U.S. to allow trapping despite a finding that climate change may threaten the survival of the fierce, bear-like creatures. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 2010 that wolverines warrant protecting but that other species are in more imminent danger.
On Thursday, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners approved the upcoming trapping season. Agency officials say the climate change models span decades and there is no immediate threat.
Montana allows the trapping of up to five wolverines per year. In 2011, trappers killed two.
The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 250-300 wolverines in the Lower 48 and 15,000-20,000 in Canada.