Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks reminds trappers and hunters that the upcoming winter trapping season is closed for lynx.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the Canada lynx as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. The listing covers 16 states, including Montana. As a federally threatened species, taking a lynx by trapping or shooting is prohibited.
Montana's furbearer trapping season for bobcat, marten, fisher, and wolverine runs from Dec. 1 through Feb. 15, 2001 in the western portion of the state. Hound hunting for bobcat and mountain lion also begins Dec. 1.
Although the lynx is now listed as a federally threatened species, winter snow track surveys show there are good numbers of lynx in Montana.
"Montana supports the healthiest lynx population in the lower 48 states," said Brian Giddings, FWP's furbearer coordinator. "Despite the fact that Montana's lynx population is well distributed and at good numbers, the lynx was listed based on its status throughout the northern portion of the U.S., not on a state-by-state basis."
In response to concerns among the states about how the listing will affect their ability to manage other species through trapping and hunting, the USFWS is currently developing a special rule under the ESA that allows for the incidental take or killing of a lynx. For Montana to be included under a special rule, educational and regulatory provisions must be met to minimize any incidental take of a lynx. The federal rule, however, probably won't be in place until next year.
Giddings urges trappers to understand that accidental captures of lynx remain a strict violation of the ESA during the 2000-2001 trapping season. "The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service may investigate any violation," he said. In addition, FWP recommends that bobcat and lion hunters immediately retrieve their trained hounds and leave the site of an accidentally treed lynx. Shooting a lynx is a violation of the ESA, and will remain illegal under any special rule regarding the incidental taking of lynx. "All bobcat and lion hunters absolutely must identify their target before they shoot," Giddings stressed.