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Canada lynx

Missoulian, June 30, 2014

Environmental group sues Idaho over lynx trapping
By The Associated Press

The Center for Biological Diversity has sued Idaho state officials to stop the trapping of lynx, which are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The environmental group filed its lawsuit in Boise’s U.S. District Court, charging Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and members of the state’s Fish and Game Commission with improperly allowing trapping that leads to the death of lynx. The group estimated fewer than 100 lynx still remain in Idaho.

“With lynx being pushed to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states, it’s shameful that Idaho officials have just sat idly by for years,” said Amy Atwood of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Idaho can’t just ignore federal law and go on condoning the trapping of this rare and magnificent cat.”

Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler said the agency had not received a copy of the lawsuit by Monday afternoon, and had no comment on its claims.

“I’m not aware of any lynx being trapped in Idaho legally in many, many years,” Keckler said. “We’ve had a couple incidental takes. I can think of three in the last several years. Two were safely released and the third, a trapper mistook it for a bobcat and killed it. It was properly reported.”

Members of the environmental group proposed having Idaho require restrictions on body-crushing or steel-jaw traps and snares to reduce the hazard to lynx, as well as stricter reporting requirements and daily trap inspections in lynx habitat. They have filed similar lawsuits in Minnesota and Maine.

Last September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed designating about 41,547 square miles in the continental United States as critical habitat for lynx. That includes parts of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, Minnesota and Maine. That was a net increase of 632 square miles from a 2009 proposal.

The federal government listed lynx as a threatened species in 2000. Montana removed it from its list of trappable furbearers that year, according to state Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim. Since then, Montana trappers have also occasionally caught lynx by accident. University of Montana biologists estimate there are between 350 and 500 lynx in Montana.

Lynx are larger than bobcats but smaller than mountain lions, weighing between 18 and 24 pounds. They prefer deep, high-elevation forests, where they mainly prey on snowshoe hares, red squirrels, grouse and Columbian ground squirrels.

© Copyright 2014, missoulian.com, 500 S. Higgins Missoula, MT.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton