Maine IFW Served With Lawsuit

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The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife confirmed that it has been served with a lawsuit Thursday that seeks to effectively ban all trapping in Maine.

The Animal Protection Institute filed suit in Federal District Court on Thursday claiming that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife continues to violate the Endangered Species Act by allowing trapping, which alleges that lynx, bald eagles, and gray wolves are being taken unacceptably during the regulated trapping season. The Maine Attorney General's office will handle the suit.

"The Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife works with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to minimize the potential take of lynx and ensure that regulated trapping is no threat to lynx populations; and clearly, banning trapping in the State of Maine is not our preferred option," said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Maine has a larger lynx population than any other eastern state, and Maine's bald eagle population is the largest in the northeast. Maine does not have a gray wolf population.

"Trapping is an important wildlife management activity that is highly regulated to ensure that wildlife populations continue to be healthy," said Ken Elowe, Director, Bureau of Resource Management for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

"Maine is known nationwide as a leader in collaborative research and conservation of lynx. Currently, the department is in the midst of a 6-year lynx research project that has provided as much or more lynx habitat and status information as any other study in the lower 48 states," said Martin. This lynx project is a collaboration between the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the University of Maine, Maine Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and several commercial forest landowners.

The Department continues to work with trappers to incorporate best management practices into trapping. The department also published a pamphlet for trappers entitled "How To Avoid Incidental Take of Lynx" which was written and distributed to reduce the possibility of trapping lynx while trapping other furbearers. A few lynx are killed each year by cars, predators such as bobcats and fisher, and occasionally caught incidentally during the regulated trapping season.

The Animal Protection Institute, based in California, describes itself as an "animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education."