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Lawsuit Alleges that Feds Allowing Harm to Endangered Lynx in Maine

Keith Williams
Wikimedia Commons
A Canada lynx on a frozen lake in the Yukon.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Several animal conservation and welfare groups are joining in a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service on behalf of Canada lynx, a species under federal protection.

The groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlife Alliance of Maine and the Animal Welfare Institute, alleged that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed trappers in Maine to kill and seriously injure the protected cat.  

The cats are generally caught, injured and killed in traps intended for other animals, such as coyotes and foxes.  Such unintentional trapping of the protected cats is allowed with a federal  "incidental take permit." The suit challenges a permit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wlidlife last year that covers the state's trapping programs.

The lawsuit claims that the state's trapping programs violate both the Endangered Species Act, which requires that harm to lynx be minimized and mitigated, and the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires that environmental impacts be properly analyzed.

In a statement, Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity, says Canada lynx are suffering and dying in traps needlessly. "A few common-sense changes could prevent most of this suffering, but the Service refuses to require Maine’s trapping programs to make those changes," Adkins says.

The groups object to the use of Conibear traps, which snap shut, as well as cable restraints and foothold traps in areas where lynx live. They say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to require that certain devices be applied to traps to avoid harm to lynx.

The lawsuit also challenges Maine’s plan for mitigating harm to lynx, which they say relies mostly on lynx habitat management.