Maine Trappers Win in Court
Trappers in Maine won a major victory as the state's Federal District Court upheld the state's trapping practices and blocked the establishment of a precedent that could be used by anti-hunting and anti-trapping groups nationwide.
In 2008, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) seeking a permanent injunction that would have essentially prohibited trapping in the state. The lawsuit claimed that Maine's trapping regulations violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because Canada lynx, a threatened species under the ESA, could be incidentally caught in traps causing "irreparable harm" to the population.
Throughout the case, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation (USSAF), along with the Maine Trappers' Association, Fur Takers of America, National Trappers' Association, and several individual sportsmen, argued that the anti-trapping plaintiffs had to show that Maine's trapping practices were a threat to the Canada lynx population as a whole. The plaintiffs insisted that harm to one individual lynx was sufficient for the Court to prohibit trapping in the state.
On November 10th, Federal District Court Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. ruled that Maine's trapping practices did not irreparably harm the Canada lynx and denied the injunction sought by the anti-trappers. Further, the Judge agreed with the state and the USSAF that "irreparable harm" is harm to a species as a whole and not simply one individual member.
"Although the plaintiffs may appeal the ruling, the Federal Court's decision is a monumental victory for the trappers in Maine and sets an excellent precedent that will make it harder for the antis to misuse the ESA in their attempts to ban hunting and trapping in other states," states USSAF Vice President for Government Affairs Rob Sexton.
"We knew the evidence was on our side and are thrilled with outcome," said Skip Trask, executive director of the Maine Trappers Association. "The USSAF's legal assistance was invaluable to the favorable outcome."
Chick Andres, President of the Fur Takers of America commented, "Trappers nationwide should be grateful that the court saw through what the anti's were trying to do."
In 2008 the USSAF's legal arm, the U.S. Sportsmen's Legal Defense Fund, was granted permission to intervene in the lawsuit. The case came on the heels of similar case, also in Maine, that was settled in late 2007 when the DIFW agreed to restrict trap sizes in areas where Canada lynx exist.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation protects and defends America's wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits - hunting, fishing and trapping - that generate the money to pay for them. The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussafoundation.org.