Lynx – New Regulations Coming For Idaho Trappers
By Toby Trigger

Posted: January 17, 2016

For the fourth time groups calling them selves environmentalists have sued states for allowing trapping in areas where lynx are known to exist. The latest state to receive this law suit is Idaho.

Trappers in the Clearwater and Panhandle Regions of the state trap furbearers and wolves in areas with marginal lynx habitat.  The first three states to be sued were Maine, Minnesota and Montana – in that order.

The Center For Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians Filed a Lawsuit against  C.L. “Butch” Otter, Governor of Idaho, in his official capacity, Virgil Moore Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, in his official capacity; Brad Corkill, Fed Grevey, Bob Barowsky, Mark Doerr, Randy Budge, Kenny Anderson, and Will Naillon, members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, in their official capacities.

That lawsuit was reviewed by B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court who made a Memorandum Decision on January 8, 2016.

The court found that “the proper course here is to order the defendants to propose a plan to protect the lynx in the Panhandle and Clearwater Regions from future incidental take.”

The timeframe for determining a satisfactory outcome is about three months according to court documents;

 The Court will give the defendants 90 days to submit that plan. The plaintiffs will then have an opportunity to review, and if necessary to challenge, that plan. Ideally, the parties may be able to meet together and propose a joint stipulated plan to the Court. If not, the Court will determine the terms of the injunction.

The plaintiffs in the case wanted the plan to affect Seven Districts in the state but the judge found that two of the seven met the criteria.

Irreparable Harm – Conclusion
The plaintiffs have carried their burden of showing irreparable harm in the Panhandle and Clearwater Regions only.
LITIGATION BACKGROUND (excerpt from Case No. 1:14-CV-258-BLWMEMORANDUM DECISION)
The Canada Lynx is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Over the last three-and-a-half years, four lynx have been captured in Idaho with traps set by trappers intending to lure other species. Three of those four lynx were released alive and the fourth was shot and killed by the trapper, thinking it was another species.
The plaintiffs – four environmental groups – allege that these captures of four lynx violate the ESA. They allege that Idaho’s trapping regulations fail to sufficiently protect the lynx, and that the Court should impose specific regulatory changes on trapping in lynx habitat that would be more protective. They have sued Governor Otter, Virgil
Moore, the Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

 

This outcome is consistent with other states where some regulation changes have been implemented to avoid the incidental capture of lynx.

The real challenge is finding regulations that satisfy the expectations of the litigious groups that provide meaningful trapping for trappers.   Implementing regulations that actually work and aren’t implemented just to satisfy environmentalists seems to be the biggest hurdle.