Three conservation groups plan to sue the state of Idaho over its trapping regulations, saying they don’t do enough to prevent incidental trapping of federally protected Canada lynx.
Surging prices for bobcat pelts, driven by demand for fur in Asia, have led to an increase in recreational trapping in the state, according to the 60-day notice of intent to sue filed Monday by the conservation groups.
At least three lynx have been caught by bobcat trappers in the past two years, with the most recent incident occurring in January in the Cabinet Mountains. Two of the lynx were released alive; one was killed after the trapper mistook it for a bobcat.
“Many Canada lynx have been trapped incidentally while targeting bobcat and coyotes,” said the intent to sue notice, which quoted a 1998 report from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As few as 100 of the lynx are believed to remain in Idaho, primarily north of the Salmon River to the west, and north of the Caribou Range to the east. The secretive forest cats have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 2000.
The notice was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Friends of the Clearwater. It names Gov. Butch Otter; Virgil Moore, director of the state Fish and Game department; and the Fish and Game Commission’s seven members.
The conservation groups said state officials could address the problem by altering trapping regulations. They want the department to outlaw lethal traps, step up monitoring and require a daily trap check in lynx habitat. If the changes aren’t made, the groups said they plan to file a federal lawsuit.
State officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.