A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge has ruled that a coyote trapper whose methods ignited a controversy in the Fallsgrove neighborhood of Rockville did not violate Maryland law by using steel-jawed leg-hold traps.

Judge Louise G. Scrivener last week denied a request for a preliminary injunction filed by the Montgomery County Humane Society and other plaintiffs who have said trapper Michael Adcock used cruel and unnecessary traps.

"I believe that the activity he is doing is something he is licensed to do under a state law," Scrivener said. "There is no basis for the injunction."

The ruling came a week after Circuit Court Judge Durke G. Thompson temporarily barred Adcock from trapping coyotes in Montgomery. Attorneys for the plaintiffs said Adcock had violated provisions of the Natural Resources Article of the Maryland Code.

Scrivener said the laws the plaintiffs cited pertain to hunting, not trapping, and she noted that Adcock is licensed as a nuisance wildlife control cooperator by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

"The court finds that the defendant is engaged in the business of wildlife control, not hunting," Scrivener said. "The restrictions cited . . . do not apply to the act that he is doing."

Cary J. Hansel, who represented the plaintiffs, said he was nonetheless happy with the result of the case because Adcock has resigned from the Fallsgrove job and has said he will no longer set up traps in the community.