Battle to Protect Canada Lynx Continues

At least 47 Canada lynx have been illegally trapped in Maine over the past decade and despite a designation as threatened on the federal endangered species list, a court has declined to accord lynx adequate protection from illegal trapping under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In August 2008, AWI and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine (WAM) brought suit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) in an effort to change Maine’s trapping rules to prevent the unlawful trapping of Canada lynx. This past December, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine ruled that Maine’s current regulatory scheme for trapping furbearing animals is resulting, and will continue to result, in trapping of Canada lynx in violation of the ESA. However, the court declined to provide protection to the lynx by ordering a permanent injunction to further restrict traps in Maine’s lynx habitat pending the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as to the issuance of an incidental take permit. IF&W has applied for such a permit under section 10 of the ESA, which would require that the agency implement mitigation measures to better protect lynx from indiscriminate traps. AWI and WAM have appealed the ruling to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and sent a letter petitioning the FWS to invoke its enforcement authority against IF&W for ongoing violations of the ESA.