Wildlife Advocacy Organizations File Motion to Stop Start of Early Coyote & Fox Trapping in Maine to Protect Imperiled Lynx from Deadly Traps

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bangor, ME -- The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine (WAM) filed a motion in federal district court in Bangor Maine today seeking a preliminary injunction (PI) to stop Maine’s early coyote and fox trapping season. Set to commence on October 18, this request for a PI is an effort to protect federally protected Canada lynx from leghold traps. AWI and WAM are co-plaintiffs in a case against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (DIFW) that seeks to stop the agency from continuing to violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by allowing trappers to use traps that trap, injure and sometimes kill Canada lynx- a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 2000.

"An immediate injunction is necessary to protect lynx and their young from traps set for coyote and fox during this early trapping season when lynx are more vulnerable," said Camilla Fox, Wildlife Consultant for AWI who served as an expert witness in this case and two other similar cases. "Historically, more lynx have been incidentally trapped in October and November during the early coyote and fox season than any other months and the court has yet to rule on our federal case so we are forced to file this motion to protect lynx from deadly traps."

On August 11, 2008, AWI and WAM filed suit against DIFW to compel the agency to comply with federal law and take immediate action to protect Canada lynx. Through documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the organizations showed that at least 44 lynx have been trapped in leghold and Conibear kill traps set for other species since 1999.Two lynx died in Conibear kills traps last winter. Of the 30 lynx trapped in leghold traps from 1999 through 2006, 20 lynx were caught in foothold traps in October during the early fox and coyote trapping season. During this time, lynx - who are curious animals by nature - are often attracted to the bait used for coyotes, foxes, and other species and there are more juvenile lynx roaming the Maine woods who may be more vulnerable. Young lynx are sometimes killed or orphaned when their parents are killed in traps.

"We feel this motion will accomplish two very important goals. It will give the judge the time he needs to make a decision based on the letter of the law, and more importantly, it will protect our dwindling lynx population from further harm from someone’s idea of recreation," said Daryl DeJoy, Founding Executive Director of WAM.

Through the PI motion, plaintiffs are seeking to enjoin the early fox and coyote trapping season to provide sufficient time for the Court to issue its decision on the ESA case.

Maine’s resident lynx population is estimated at only 200-500 individuals. However, survey data shows that fewer lynx are reproducing and the population is likely in decline while snow shoe hare populations- the main source of prey for lynx - have declined by 50% in the last two years in Maine. "When lynx are facing such increasingly challenging odds, it is biologically reckless for the State to continue to allow the use of traps that are known to capture, injure, and sometimes kill lynx," said Fox. "It is also illegal."

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Media Contacts:

Camilla Fox, AWI, (415) 945-3232 (office) / (415) 690-0338 (cell)
Daryl DeJoy, Wildlife Alliance of Maine, (207) 326-0779 (office) / (207) 299-2291 (cell)
Photos available

The Animal Welfare Institute is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. More information is available at http://www.awionline.org/.

The Wildlife Alliance of Maine is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of Maine’s wildlife and to promoting a conservation ethic that represents non-consumptive wildlife users. More information is available at http://www.wildlifealliancemaine.org/.