Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday he would allow some trout eggs to be shipped from a federal hatchery after blocking out-of-state shipments last week in a wildlife management dispute with the Interior Department.
Two shipments totaling 142,000 eggs were approved from the Ennis National Fish Hatchery to New Hampshire and Utah, where they will be hatched and used to stock local waterways.
Three more shipments originally scheduled for Dec. 27 to South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska remain blocked.
Schweitzer is using the shipments as political leverage in an attempt to persuade the Interior Department to change how it manages other wildlife, including bison.
He said he allowed the New Hampshire and Utah shipments after federal officials pledged to provide details of activities on the National Bison Range near Moiese in western Montana. Interior officials earlier this month rebuffed Schweitzer's proposal to transfer some bison captured from Yellowstone National park onto the range.
Interior Sec. Ken Salazar later indicated the transfer was still a possibility and would be evaluated by his agency, but Schweitzer has remained dissatisfied.
A spokesman for Salazar, Adam Fetcher, said Wednesday he could not immediately comment.
A Dec. 13 order from the Democrat governor remains in effect prohibiting fish and wildlife shipments by the Interior Department in Montana without prior approval from the state.
Schweitzer complained Wednesday that he had received conflicting schedules from Interior regarding the egg shipments from Ennis. State wildlife officials did not find out about the shipment to New Hampshire until Tuesday, he said.
The Associated Press reported on the New Hampshire shipment on Dec. 22.
"Once again, this is information they are supposed to provide," Schweitzer said. "Their own rules tell them they ought to cooperate and collaborate with state fish and wildlife agencies with any shipment of wildlife. We're just holding them to their own rules."
The approved out-of-state trout egg shipments will go out Wednesday or Thursday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said.
Eggs from the blocked shipments for South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska have been put in refrigeration to prolong their life. The 275,000 eggs can remain chilled for several weeks before they become unusable and have to be thrown out, according to the federal agency.
The next two months are among the Ennis hatchery's busiest seasons, with more than 5 million eggs scheduled to be sent to state and federal hatcheries across the country. Several shipments from Ennis to sites within Montana already have been approved.
Scheduled next week are shipments of more than 250,000 eggs to hatcheries in states including Wisconsin, Tennessee and Colorado.