Court to Consider Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting Canada Lynx from Trapping Deaths, Injuries in Maine

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Canada Lynx from Trapping Deaths, Injuries in Maine . Photo by Carl Robidoux.BANGOR, ME—A federal district court will hear arguments Thursday on a lawsuit brought by wildlife conservation and animal welfare organizations against the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for allowing trappers in Maine to kill and seriously injure Canada lynx, a federally protected cat. Plaintiffs include the Center for Biological Diversity, the Wildlife Alliance of Maine and the Animal Welfare Institute.

Each year Maine trappers targeting coyotes, foxes, bobcat and other wildlife unintentionally kill and seriously injure Canada lynx, one of the rarest cats in the United States. Because lynx are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the state cannot authorize such “incidental” harm to lynx without an “incidental take permit” issued by the USFWS. The lawsuit challenges the USFWS’ permit issued to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife covering the state’s trapping programs.

“Other states are looking to this precedent-setting case to determine whether they need to modify their trapping programs to protect endangered wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m hopeful that the court will recognize that the US Fish and Wildlife Service unreasonably refused to require Maine’s trapping programs to make commonsense changes to protect lynx from traps.”

“We asked Maine for protective measures that would have prevented the deaths of two trapped lynx in the first three weeks of the permit,” said Daryl DeJoy, executive director of Wildlife Alliance of Maine. “Instead of avoiding these injuries and deaths in the first place, Maine's wait-and-see approach puts the risks on the lynx.”

The lawsuit argues that Maine’s trapping programs violate both the Endangered Species Act, which requires that harm to lynx be minimized and mitigated, and the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires a proper analysis of environmental impacts.

“The Endangered Species Act is clear on what is required to protect threatened and endangered species, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to ensure that Maine is meeting even the most basic requirements,” said Tara Zuardo, Animal Welfare Institute wildlife attorney. “We are hopeful that the court will ensure that the agency does not allow Maine or other states to refuse to comply with federal law when it comes to protection of Canada lynx.”

Thursday’s hearing, before US District Court Judge Jon Levy, will be at 10:00 am in Courtroom 1, Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building & Courthouse, 202 Harlow Street, Bangor, Maine. The hearing is open to the public. Rachel Stevens, an attorney with the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School, is representing the plaintiffs at the hearing and will be available after the hearing to discuss the case.

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Media Contact:
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org

About the Animal Welfare Institute
The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, visit www.awionline.org.

About the Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/.                               

About the Wildlife Alliance of Maine
The Wildlife Alliance of Maine is dedicated to advocate on behalf of Maine’s wildlife and to promote a conservation ethic that represents non-consumptive wildlife users. http://www.wildlifealliancemaine.org/.