Wildlife Conservation Groups Threaten to Sue Commissioner Martin to Protect Canada Lynx from Traps in Maine

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bangor, ME -- The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine (WAM) sent a letter of intent to sue Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (DIFW) Commissioner Roland D. Martin today to compel the agency to comply with federal law and take immediate action to protect Canada lynx from deadly traps. The letter, which was also sent to Governor Baldacci and Attorney General Steven Rowe, reveals that at least 8 Canada Lynx a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act - were caught in traps set for other species in a one month time period between October 15, 2007 and November 13, 2007.

"The state has failed to protect Canada lynx from indiscriminate traps and is therefore in violation of the Endangered Species Act every time a lynx gets caught," said Camilla Fox, Wildlife Consultant for AWI. "With eight lynx trapped in just 29 days, this means that on average at least one lynx is trapped every four days during the trapping season," said Fox. "And that's just the reported number."

A similar lawsuit filed by the Animal Protection Institute last year led to a consent decree settlement with the state that required DIFW to restrict certain traps in specific regions inhabited by lynx. "Unfortunately those restrictions were woefully inadequate," said Daryl DeJoy, Founding Executive Director of WAM. "More lynx have been trapped after the settlement was implemented than in previous years so we will be forced to go to court if DIFW fails to take immediate action to better protect lynx from non-selective traps."

The state has attempted to obtain an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) which would remove the legal burden from the state if trappers incidentally trap lynx and would require the state to implement protective measures to minimize and mitigate lynx trapping. However, three drafts have been rejected by the FWS to date and each time the federal agency has told DIFW that it must do better to protect lynx from traps set for other furbearers.

Maine's resident lynx population is estimated at only 200-500 individuals. However, the FWS has stated that the population may be in decline and snow shoe hare populations- the main source of prey for lynx - are in severe decline. "It is biologically reckless for the DIFW to continue to allow trappers to use traps that pose a danger to lynx at a time when lynx populations and their main source of prey are likely in decline," said Fox.

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Media Contacts:
Camilla Fox, AWI, (415) 690-0338 (mobile) / (415) 945-3232 (office)
Daryl DeJoy, Wildlife Alliance of Maine, (207) 299-2291 (mobile) / (207) 941-9453 (office)
Photos available

The Animal Welfare Institute is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. More information is available at http://www.awionline.org/.

The Wildlife Alliance of Maine is a non-profit organization dedicating to advocating on behalf of Maine's wildlife and to promoting a conservation ethic that represents non-consumptive wildlife users.More information is available at http://www.wildlifealliancemaine.org/.