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Lawsuit filed to protect lynx from Idaho traps

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit today against the governor of Idaho and other state officials to halt trapping that can harm or kill Canada lynx, one of the rarest cats in the United States.

The lawsuit charges Gov. Butch Otter, the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and members of the state Fish and Game Commission with violations of the Endangered Species Act resulting from state permitting that leads to trapping of lynx, a threatened species numbering as few as 100 animals in Idaho.

The state has not taken action to satisfy the previous complaints, the organizations said in filing the suit. The groups include the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians and the Western Environmental Law Center.

The groups say increases in fur prices, especially for bobcat, have increased interest in trapping and cited at least three confirmed incidents of lynx being unintentionally trapped in the last two years.

The groups say the Idaho Department of Fish and Game should develop a conservation plan with measures to minimize incidental trapping of lynx. Such a plan would include restrictions on body-crushing and steel-jaw traps and snares, reporting requirements, and a daily trap check requirement throughout lynx habitat. They say similar lawsuits in Minnesota and Maine have led to such restrictions.

Last year the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed more than 26 million acres of critical habitat across six states for the Canada lynx, which faces ongoing threats from habitat destruction and reduced snowpack from climate change.

Lynx are medium-sized, long-legged cats, ranging up to 24 pounds. They are generally nocturnal and well adapted to hunting snowshoe hare at high elevations.

The lawsuit, which was filed today in federal district court in Boise, can be read here.

Idaho faces lawsuit over inadvertent lynx trapping by recreational trappers

Five environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Idaho today, charging that the state is violating the Endangered Species Act by allowing recreational trapping that inadvertently ensnares federally protected Canada lynx, the AP reports. In the last two years in Idaho, three lynx have been caught in traps intended for bobcats. One was killed after the trapper mistook it for a bobcat, and the two others were released. The groups want limits on Idaho trapping to protect the threatened big cat; click below for a full report from AP reporter Rachel LaCorte.

Court asked to speed up Canada lynx recovery work

THREATENED SPECIES —  Wildlife advocates want a federal judge to force the government to move more quickly on a recovery plan for imperiled Canada lynx, according to this story just moved by the Associated Press.

The U.S. government declared the snow-loving big cats a threatened species across the Lower 48 states in 2000. But officials haven’t come up with a mandated recovery plan.

After a federal judge criticized the delay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed completing the plan by early 2018.

A coalition of wildlife advocacy groups says that’s not soon enough. They’re asking U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to order the work done by late 2016.

Lynx are rarely seen and there’s no reliable estimate of their population. Their 14-state range includes portions of the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and the Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon. 

Canada lynx trapped in Cabinet Mountains

Two trappers in Idaho’s Cabinet Mountain range had an unexpected catch last week.

The snarling critter they had live-trapped was slightly smaller than a bobcat, with tufted ears and big, furry feet. It was Canada lynx, a rare and secretive forest cat.

The trappers called the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which sent a team out to collar the 17-pound female. It was a lucky break for the department, which is in the middle of a study on lynx, wolverine and fishers.

“I was surprised that there were lynx in the West Cabinets,” said Michael Lucid, who’s heading up the Multi-Species Baseline Initiative for Idaho Fish and Game. “It shows us how little we know about the animals that live in our forests.”

Lynx critical habitat could be protected; reaction varies

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a revision in the critical habitat designation the Canada lynx, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The proposal would designate more than 41,000 square miles within the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming as critical habitat for the Canada lynx.

  • See reaction from U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., House Natural Resources Committee chairman.

The federal government is asking for public comment on aspects of the proposal, including whether areas where the lynx have recently moved into, including parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, should be added to the critical habitat.

The proposed revision comes after several snowmobiling groups launched unsuccessful legal challenges of the previously designated critical habitat.

As part of the proposal announced Wednesday, federal officials said they considering excluding more than 1,900 square miles of tribal lands within the states of Maine, Montana and Washington.

The new critical habitat adds some land as well, including some private timber lands in northern Maine, as well as Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service land in northeastern Wyoming. The lynx have been protected since 2000.

The Center for Biological Diversity applauded the Fish and Wildlife proposal, saying the extra space could help the rare wildcat whose population has been reduced by trapping and habitat loss.

“Like many animals, Canada lynx need quiet places free of disturbance from snowmobiles and other human activities to survive, so we’re thrilled the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed expanding their critical habitat,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The federal government has also asked the public to consider whether some lands in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Washington should be considered essential habitat, in part because they connect the places where lynx live.

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Delay in lynx recovery spurs federal lawsuit

PREDATORS – Wildlife advocates have asked a federal court to force the government to come up with a recovery plan for Canada lynx 13 years after the snow-loving wild cats were declared a threatened species.

A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges the long delay by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violates federal law.

Four environmental groups want the U.S. District Court in Montana to set a date for the agency to adopt a “road map” that would detail what’s needed for lynx to recover.

A Fish and Wildlife spokesman declined comment on the lawsuit.

It’s unknown how many lynx survive in the U.S. They are rarely seen across a 14-state range that includes portions of the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, the western Great Lakes and the Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon.

Lynx shows up at wolverine bait station

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — Although they're trying to document the presence of wolverines, getting good snapshots of a Canada lynx still made the day for volunteers monitoring bait stations for the wolverine research project trail cams in North Idaho last week.

The photo comes from a bait station set up by Idaho Fish and Game, which is partnering on the research with Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Note the black tufts on the tips of the ears, and the huge furry feet that give it snowshoe-like buoyancy  on the snow. The winter track of a lynx looks as though a powder puff has been dabbed in the snow.

The lynx, which is federally listed as a threatened species, feeds primarily on snowshoe hares

See more bait station photos of the lynx as well as of the volunteers and other critters visiting the bait stations — on the Wolverine Study Facebook Page.

Canada Lynx Sighted on Salmon-Challis National Forest

WILDLIFE — Idaho Fish and Game biologists confirmed a recent sighting of a Canada lynx on the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

The sighting is the first direct evidence of lynx presence on the forest since 1991.

Idaho Fish and Game collected hair and scat samples from the animal to determine its origin, according to an agency media release.

“This would be an extremely rare event, and we’re waiting to get genetic test results before we confirm it’s a native, wild lynx,” Fish and Game wildlife manager Tom Keegan said.

A local recreationist reported the animal to Fish and Game after seeing it in a legally set foot-hold trap targeting bobcat. Fish and Game officials arrived at the scene within the hour and assessed the lynx for injuries and potential treatment. With no injuries indicated, officials released the lynx from the trap.

“We watched it wander off in good shape,” conservation office Dane Cook said. “It had all the classic lynx features:  long legs, huge furry paws, ear tufts, and the short black-tipped tail.”

Read on for more details about lynx.