Lawsuit Filed to Protect Lynx from Deadly Traps

Press conference to announce filing, demonstrate traps, and reveal photographs

Bangor, ME—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine (WAM) filed suit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (DIFW) today to stop the agency from continuing to violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by allowing trappers to use traps that injure and sometimes kill Canada lynx. In May 2008, AWI and WAM sent a 60-day letter of intent to sue the DIFW in an effort to prompt the agency to take immediate actions to protect Canada lynx- a species listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act- from traps. The state failed to respond to the letter.

In their complaint, AWI and WAM show that at least 8 lynx 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 number that is reported."

A similar lawsuit filed by another wildlife advocacy organization 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 are forced to take legal action to compel DIFW to take immediate action to better protect lynx from non-selective traps."

AWI and WAM will hold a press conference today to announce the filing, demonstrate the types of traps that have captured Canada lynx in Maine, and show photos obtained through the Freedom of Information Act of lynx captured in traps:

When: 10:00 a.m., August 11, 2008
Where: Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building, 202 Harlow Street/ Bangor, Maine

Maine's resident lynx population is estimated at only 200-500 individuals. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that the population may be in decline and snow shoe hare populations- the main source of prey for lynx have declined by 50% in the last two years in Maine. "It is biologically reckless for the DIFW to continue to allow the use of traps that are known to capture, injure, and sometimes kill lynx when the species may be in decline," said Fox. "It is also illegal."