MT: Trapping in Lynx Country Jeopardizes Recovery Efforts, Violates ESA

The topic of lynx and forest management has been covered recently at this blog.  Yesterday, a new twist emerged as the lynx news coming out of Montana was related to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently announced wolf-trapping season, which will run from December 15 to February 28 across much of the state – including on millions of acres of national forest lands.

Four Conservation groups – WildEarth Guardians, The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Wild Swan, and Native Ecosystems Council – have filed a notice of intent to sue Montana FWP, allegding that their new wolf-trapping regulations violate the Endangered Species Act, as related to the recovering of Canada lynx.  Below is the press release and you can read their notice of intent to sue here.

Helena, MT – Four conservation organizations today served a notice of intent to sue upon the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission for permitting trapping that kills and injures Canada lynx, a species protected as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The state permits trapping and snaring in lynx habitat, but the Act prohibits harm to protected species. At least nine Montana lynx have been captured in traps in Montana since the species was listed in March 2000, and four are known to have died from trapping.

“Montana has failed to safeguard lynx from the cruel vicissitudes of traps and snares,” stated Wendy Keefover, Carnivore Protection Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, “and that has resulted in the death and impairment of several animals, which impedes lynx recovery.”

Canada lynx captured in body-gripping traps endure physiological and psychological trauma, dehydration, and exposure as well as injuries to bone and tissue that reduces their fitness and chances for persistence. Trapping is also a likely source of indirect mortality to lynx kits since adults harmed or killed by traps and snares cannot adequately feed and nurture their young.

“Crippled or dead lynx can’t take care of their young,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of The Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “If we want to get lynx off the Endangered Species list, we need species’ resuscitation, not more mortalities and mutilations.”

Montana allows regulated trapping of a number of species throughout the year. The conservation groups allege that trapping and snaring in occupied lynx habitat is illegal because Montana has not exercised “due care” to prevent harm to lynx as required by the Endangered Species Act.

“Lynx are particularly vulnerable to traps,” said Arlene Montgomery, Program Director of Friends of the Wild Swan, “and Federal law requires Montana to contribute to lynx survival and recovery, but continued trapping does the exact opposite.”

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