Idaho will not be required to change trapping regulations where federally protected Canada lynx are likely to be caught in traps set for bobcats, a federal court said in a decision that reversed its earlier ruling.
U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill said in January that he was reconsidering his prior decision based on new evidence put forward by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service making clear the agency allows the incidental capture of lynx that are released unharmed.
The federal agency exempting lynx caught by licensed trappers targeting bobcats, Winmill wrote, “makes it far less likely that illegal takes will occur in the future.”
“We are pleased with the ruling because it validates the state’s position that authorized trapping in Idaho is not a threat to the lynx population,” Idaho Governor Butch Otter, one of the Idaho officials named in the lawsuit, said in a statement.
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the groups that initiated the lawsuit against Otter, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and other state officials in 2014.
In January 2016, the court ordered Idaho to alter trapping regulations in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions in northern Idaho. Idaho officials asked the court to reconsider, and trapping regulations remained unchanged concerning lynx while the case played out, leading to the recent ruling.
“We are disappointed,” said Andrea Santarsiere, senior attorney with the CBD. “I think the reality is this means more lynx might be killed in Idaho and that’s certainly not the outcome we were hoping for.” She said the groups are reviewing the ruling and haven’t decided their next move.
Canada lynx, about the size of bobcats but with huge paws to help them navigate deep snow, have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 2002.