This week, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation filed comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supporting the issuance of an incidental take permit that would help protect trapping in the state. Click here to read USSAF’s full comments to the Service.
On November 9, 2011, the Service announced it would considering issuing an incidental take permit to Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The permit would allow the state, and licensed trappers, to accidentally trap a small number of Canada lynx, when trapping for other legal species, without being in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Essentially, the permit would recognize that a few accidentally caught Canada lynx do not threaten the species’ ability to survive and recover.
“USSAF’s comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service support the issuance of the incidental take permit,” said Jeremy Rine, in-house counsel and associate director of state services. “Our comments also ask the Service to not place additional restrictions on trapping in the state as a condition of the permit. The state’s current strict trapping regulations ensure that lynx populations will not be harmed by trapping in the state.”
This is the latest step in a long battle against anti-trapping groups who have attempted to use the Canada lynx’s status as threatened under the ESA to ban trapping in the state. In 2006 and 2008, anti-trapping groups sued the state seeking to stop Maine’s trapping season by claiming that the protected Canada lynx might accidentally be caught by a trapper while attempting to trap other legal species. 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, intervened in the cases, ultimately winning a landmark victory for trapping in the state and at the same time setting a legal precedent nationally that makes it harder for antis to use the ESA to ban hunting, fishing, or trapping.
An incidental take permit issued by the USFWS would help shield the state from similar lawsuits seeking to shut down trapping. Currently, anytime a Canada lynx is accidentally caught in a trap, it is a violation of the ESA by the trapper, even if the animal is released unharmed.
To be clear, the permit does not allow for the intentional trapping of Canada lynx but would act to protect the state and trappers who might accidentally catch one while trapping for other legal species. The permit would also include a cap on the total number of lynx that could be accidentally trapped.