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Montana Approves Restrictions on Trapping to Save Imperiled Lynx

July 9, 2015
Bethany Cotton 406 414-7227
In This Release

Thursday, July 9, 2015
Montana Approves Restrictions on Trapping to Save Imperiled Lynx

New Regulations in Lynx Habitat Aimed at Protecting Rare Cats
Contact: Bethany Cotton 406 414-7227

Additional contacts:
Matthew Bishop, Western Environmental Law Center,406-422-9866, bishop@westernlaw.org Arlene Montgomery, Friends of the Wild Swan, 406-886-2011, arlene@wildswan.org
Michael Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, 406-459-5936,wildrockies@gmail.com

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Today, the Montana Fish and WildlifeCommission approved a set of reasonable restrictions on trapping in Canada lynxhabitat recommended by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in anagreement with three conservation organizations who challenged the state’sfailure to adequately safeguard the protected cats.

In 2013 Friends of the Wild Swan, Alliance for the WildRockies and WildEarth Guardians, represented by the Western Environmental LawCenter, sued Montana for its failure to ensure imperiled lynx are not caught intraps. Lynx are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act making itillegal to trap a lynx regardless of whether another animal was targeted orwhether the lynx is killed, injured or released. At least 15 lynx were caughtin traps in Montana since 2001, the most recent in December 2014. Five of thesetrapping incidents were fatal.

“We applaud the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission fortaking this important step in bringing Montana out of the dark ages wheretrapping occurred nearly unregulated,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife programdirector for WildEarth Guardians. “These common-sense changes bring our statecloser to ensuring our most imperiled wildlife are protected from cruel traps.”

Today’s approval of the settlement by the commission establishesa “lynx protection zone” in occupied lynx habitat in northwest Montana and theGreater Yellowstone region. The lynx protection zone restricts the size andplacement of traps and snares that catch and sometimes kill lynx, and requiresbobcat trappers to check their traps at least once every 48 hours. The use offresh meat or feathers as bait is now prohibited in the lynx protection zone.

According to the best available science, these changes willsignificantly reduce or eliminate the risk of accidental lynx trapping and willdecrease the likelihood of serious injury or death to the species if caught.

The agreement maintains the current closure of the wolverinetrapping season in Montana for an additional two years with a requirement toconsider the best available science before the season can be re-opened. It alsoincludes enhanced monitoring and reporting, as well as a commitment from the stateto meet with conservationists and update the regulations or the lynx protectionzone boundary if more than one future lynx-trapping incident occurs.

“We appreciate the commission approving these changes that willreduce injury and mortality to imperiled lynx,” said Arlene Montgomery, programdirector for Friends of the Wild Swan. “Our goal is to protect and recover lynxand these new restrictions works toward that.”

“Lynx have been headed down the path to extinction partly becausethey were being illegally killed in traps set for other animals,” said MikeGarrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “We hope themeasures approved today will mean the end of the incidental killing of lynx andwill help Montana’s lynx population recover sufficiently to eventually bedelisted as a protected species.”

“These are long overdue but important changes that ifsuccessful should keep lynx out of traps and help the long-term recovery of thespecies in Montana, which is something we all want,” said Western EnvironmentalLaw Center Attorney Matthew Bishop. “We commend the state for taking the stepsnecessary to protect one of our state’s most iconic animals.”

First listed in 1999, lynx are imperiled by trapping, climatechange, habitat fragmentation, and old growth logging.

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