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Court Orders Idaho to Stop Illegal Trapping of Protected Lynx

January 12, 2016
Bethany Cotton 406 414-7227
In This Release

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Court Orders Idaho to Stop Illegal Trapping of Protected Lynx

Judge Rejects State’s Attempts to Avoid Responsibility
Contact: Bethany Cotton 406 414-7227

Additional Contacts:

Pete Frost, Western EnvironmentalLaw Center, (541) 543-0018, frost@westernlaw.org Ken Cole, Western Watersheds Project,(208) 429-1679, ken@westernwatersheds.org
Gary Macfarlane, Friends of the Clearwater, (208) 882-9755, gary@friendsoftheclearwater.org Andrea Santarsiere, Center for BiologicalDiversity, (303) 854-7748, asantarsiere@biologicaldiversity.org

VICTOR,Idaho— A federal judge yesterday ordered Idaho officials to developtrapping restrictions that prevent protected Canada lynx — one of the rarestcats in the United States — from being illegally hurt or killed across morethan 20,000 square miles of the state’s Panhandle and Clearwater regions.

“We’rethrilled the court agreed with us that Idaho needs to do more to protect thebeautiful lynx from Idaho’s out-of-control trapping program,” said AndreaSantarsiere, staff attorney of Center for Biological Diversity. “Based on theillegal trapping of at least four lynx in the past four years, the court agreedwith us that the state can’t stand idly by and watch while indiscriminate trapsharm these rare and federally protected cats.”

Lynx,which may number as few as 100 in Idaho, are classified as “threatened” underthe Endangered Species Act. As a result, trapping of a lynx is illegal,regardless of whether the cat is killed, injured or released. The court foundthat because it is likely lynx will continue to be caught in traps meant forother species in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions, Idaho must alter itstrapping regulations to prevent future lynx trapping. The court ordered thestate to submit a plan within 90 days with terms that will truly protect lynx innorthern Idaho. Modifications under the plan may include restrictions on thesize of foothold traps that can be used, prohibiting the use of traps designedto kill — such as Conibear body-gripping traps and neck snares — and requiringtrappers to check their traps every 24 hours instead of the currently required72 hours.

“Thisdecision marks a huge step toward restoring Canada lynx to their rightfulhabitat in the West,” said Pete Frost, an attorney with the WesternEnvironmental Law Center. “These barbaric trapping methods must be changed toprotect our treasured iconic cat not just in Idaho, but throughout lynxterritory.”

In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, WesternWatersheds Project, and Friends of the Clearwater filed a lawsuit against theIdaho Department of Fish and Wildlife, the department’s commissioners and Gov.Butch Otter for allowing trapping in lynx habitat. Plaintiffs were representedby the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Environmental Law Center,with Celeste Miller serving as local counsel.

“Thisis a victory not just for lynx but for bobcats, wolves, fishers, coyotes,foxes, and a suite of other forest animals as well,” said Ken Cole, Idahodirector for Western Watersheds Project. “Hopefully the Idaho Fish andGame Department will take the hint that their regulations are completelyinadequate for the protection of endangered species, and the agency will makechanges that will benefit many other species that are indiscriminatelytrapped.”

“Today’sdecision makes crystal clear that the state of Idaho must take responsibilityfor its failure to adequate regulate cruel trapping to protect imperiled lynx,”said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “Wecall on the state to immediately implement scientifically sound, humanerestrictions on trapping, including 24-hour trap checks.”

GaryMacfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater said, “With this victory lynx in theClearwater should finally receive the protection they need. It’s only commonsense to put practices in place that protect rare carnivores.”


WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit organization withover 121,000 members and activists working to protect and restore the wildlife,wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.

Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofitconservation group founded in 1993 with 1,500 members whose mission is toprotect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, publicpolicy initiatives and litigation.

Friends of the Clearwater is an Idaho-basednonprofit conservation organization that works to protect the wildness andbiodiversity of the public wildlands, wildlife, and waters of Idaho’sClearwater Basin.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national,nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and onlineactivists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Western EnvironmentalLaw Center is a public interest nonprofit law firm. WELC combines legalskills with sound conservation biology and environmental science to addressmajor environmental issues throughout the West.

Other Contact
Pete Frost, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 543-0018, frost@westernlaw.org Ken Cole, Western Watersheds Project, (208) 429-1679, ken@westernwatersheds.orgGary Macfarlane, Friends of the Clearwater, (208) 882-9755, gary@friendsoftheclearwater.org Andrea Santarsiere, Center for Biological Diversity, (303) 854-7748, asantarsiere@biologicaldiversity.org
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