District of Idaho Denies Preliminary Injunction Filed by Animal Welfare Organizations Challenging Idaho’s Trapping Regulations

On Monday, the District of Idaho issued an opinion and order in the case of Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. Little et al. denying the plaintiff environmental organizations’ motion for preliminary injunction and restraining order to stop authorization and current expansion of Idaho’s wolf trapping and snaring laws and regulations.

According to the opinion, the plaintiffs are diverse group of conservation and animal welfare organizations including Center for Biological Diversity, Footloose Montana, Friends of the Clearwater, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Global Indigenous Council, the Humane Society of the United States, International Wildlife Coexistence Network, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Sierra Club, Trap Free Montana, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch and Wolves of the Rockies.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Governor of Idaho, the Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission alleging that Idaho’s gray wolf trapping and snaring laws and regulations violate the Endangered Species Act. 

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the continued and recently expanded authorization of wolf trapping and snaring in Idaho’s grizzly bear habitat are reasonably certain to cause an unlawful “take” under the ESA. The plaintiffs argued that the regulations will result in unlawful trapping and snaring of grizzly bears which are a threatened species under the ESA. 

Accordingly, the plaintiffs initiated the present litigation on December 6, 2021, and filed the motion at issue seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt the authorization of wolf trapping and snaring in Idaho’s grizzly bear habitat.

In the opinion, the court states that it only gave generalized allegations of harm based on “the emotionally appealing argument that traps and snares harm bears.” Further, the court stated that although the plaintiffs offered a significant amount of data, it did not show a single incident in which a grizzly bear was caught in a legal wolf trap under Idaho’s laws or regulations. Therefore, the court held that the plaintiffs did not show a likelihood of irreparable harm caused by the challenged laws and regulations and denied the plaintiff’s motion.