Anti-trapping and anti-hunting groups lose Lynx lawsuit

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 U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy has ruled against a lawsuit that sought to revoke the incidental take permits that protect trappers from prosecution under the Endangered Species Act if they accidentally capture a Canadian lynx, now on the ESA protected list.

Judge Levy granted a motion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. The Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, Maine Trappers Association, and the National Trappers Association all participated in defending the USF&W in this case.

It must be noted that the incidental take permit includes lots of restrictions on the methods used by trappers in the areas where lynx are found.

Judge Levy ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s use and application of incidental take permits were lawful and in keeping with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

A press release reported that “The ruling is a clear victory for the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, trappers in Maine and the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife. In his ruling, Judge Levy found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ‘actions were in keeping with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act…the National Environmental Policy Act…and the Administrative Procedure Act.’

The press release continued, “We are extremely pleased that District Court Judge Levy has sided with reasonable and responsible management,” said Evan Heusinkveld, Sportsmen’s Alliance president and CEO. “Today’s clear ruling is nothing short of a full victory for trappers, but also hunters and anglers, too. This case had far-reaching implications for how Endangered Species Act policies would be implemented. If anti-hunting organizations can ban all trapping in the areas where protected lynx are found, what would stop them from banning fishing in streams or rivers that contain endangered fish species?”

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, the Animal Welfare Institute and Friends of Animals. Incidental take permits are granted under the ESA and provide for limited, incidental taking of federally protected species. Without such protection, individual trappers and state wildlife agencies could be held liable for ESA violations every time a lynx was accidentally caught in a legal trap.

“Today is a great day for Maine trappers, and this judgment vindicates the great work of the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife,” said James Cote, director of government affairs for the Maine Trappers Association. “We are so pleased with this outcome, which is positive for trappers and Canadian lynx alike, and that wouldn’t have been possible without our partnership with the Sportsmen’s Alliance.”

While Canada lynx are listed as a threatened species in the United States, they are plentiful in Canada – hence the name, Canada lynx.  

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