Idaho’s chief federal justice, B. Lynn Winmill, ordered Idaho Department of Fish and Game to prepare a plan to protect lynx-listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act-from future incidental takes in the Panhandle and Clearwater region of the state. The agency has 90 days to submit the plan to the U.S. District Court.
The order was made in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of the Clearwater and Wild Earth Guardians.
According to legal documents associated with the case, four lynx have been accidentally captured by bobcat trappers in Idaho within the last three and a half years. Three were released alive while the fourth cat was shot and killed in a case of mistaken identity. Less than 100 lynx are believed to inhabit the mountainous regions of North Idaho.
Neither the Idaho Fish and Game Commission nor organized trapping groups have shown any willingness to support changes to Idaho’s trapping rules. A little more than a year ago, the commission refused to adopt tighter rules about the use of conibear or “body-gripping” traps that indiscriminately kill victims.
Instead of opposing any new rules, trappers and the commission would be wise to consider measures designed to reduce the incidental effects of trapping to a suite of non-target species, including wolverine and fisher.
According to records obtained by ICL through an open records request, there has been a minimum of 13 wolverines incidentally trapped in Idaho since 2002, and nearly 200 fisher were incidentally trapped between 2002 and 2012.
Both wolverine and fisher are candidates for Endangered Species Act protection. Idaho could potentially avoid the listing of both species if the Idaho Fish and Game Commission took steps to reduce the incidental trapping of these species.