With the listing of the lynx as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service comes potential changes to Montana's trapping regulations. The Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commission is seeking public input on participating in a "4(d) rule" under the Endangered Species Act in order to protect trappers who capture a lynx by mistake. "Without the protection of this rule in Montana's trapping regulations, trappers who incidentally take a lynx may be at risk of violating the Endangered Species Act and subject to a fine of up to $50,000 and up to one year in jail," according to Brian Giddings, FWP State Furbearer Coordinator.
Proposed regulation changes would require trappers to visit or visually observe all groundset foothold traps larger than size #1 1/2 at least once every 24 hours in a portion of Montana. This trap check requirement would apply in Trapping Districts 1 and 2 within the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management exterior boundaries and in Trapping Districts 3, 4, and 5 within the U.S. Forest Service exterior boundaries. Additional regulation changes would require the immediate release of lynx captured in traps or treed by a houndsman, and make it mandatory to report any incidental capture of a lynx to FWP.
The Commission is now accepting public comment through July 31 on incorporating the rule into state Trapping Regulations for the 2000-2001 trapping season. The Commission will review these comments at its Aug. 4 meeting in Helena. Sporting organizations, trappers and others should receive details on the potential regulation changes resulting from the 4(d) rule within the next two weeks. To request a copy of the proposed regulations, send name and address on a 3 x 5 card to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Attn: Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.