Trapper kills protected lynx in northern Idaho

Trapper kills protected lynx in northern Idaho
The Canada lynx, listed as a threatened species in 2000, could benefit from the growth of wolf populations, new research suggests. (Photo by Ron Moen, courtesy of the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota)

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - A northern Idaho man who killed a protected lynx after catching it in a trap has been fined $200 and ordered to pay restitution and court costs adding up to $185.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports in a story published Friday that the unnamed trapper told authorities he thought he was killing a bobcat when he shot it earlier this month. Lynx are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

"Losing a lynx to trapping or any other cause is disheartening," said Jim Hayden, Fish and Game regional wildlife manager for the Panhandle region. "Fortunately these are very rare events."

Lynx compare in size to bobcats but are equipped with longer legs and bigger paws, making them more efficient hunters in the deep snow of the boreal forests where they live.

The lynx was killed in northeastern Boundary County in an area designated as critical lynx habitat in 2009 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I have to give the guy credit for immediately letting us know he had made a mistake," said Phil Cooper, an Idaho Fish and Game officer. "It's not something there was any intent to do."

Officials said hair samples from the lynx might confirm if it's the same lynx or related to a lynx that was confirmed to be in northern Idaho the past two winters. Plans are also in place to have the lynx mounted alongside a bobcat to help in identification programs.

"Hopefully, we can use this as a means of educating people to know better of what they're looking at," Cooper said.

Because of the protected status of lynx, a federal judge last summer halted a 7,000-acre logging project in eastern Idaho in lynx habitat after finding the U.S. Forest Service failed to follow federal laws intended to safeguard the environment.

The decision followed a lawsuit by environmental groups over the Split Creek timber harvest, which also affected about 390,000 additional acres in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest near Yellowstone National Park.

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Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press