26 Oct 2010, 1:17pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Animal Rights Activists Lose Lynx Lawsuit in Maine

by George Smith, DownEast.com, 10/26/2010 [here]

Animal rights activists have lost their latest battle to stop hunting and trapping in Maine. On October 20 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston affirmed a 2009 decision by Judge John Woodcock, Jr., dismissing the animal rights groups’ Canada lynx lawsuit.

This decision provides a very important national precedent. It’s been a long trail getting to this point, but here’s a quick summary:

On November 10, 2009, Judge Woodcock of the Federal District Court in Bangor denied a request from the Animal Welfare Institute of Idaho and the Wildlife Institute of Maine for a permanent injunction against the state of Maine to stop hunting and trapping in order to protect Canada lynx.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the lynx as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act on March 24, 2000. But it has been illegal to hunt or trap lynx in Maine since 1967.

The most important thing for you to know is this: Maine probably has more lynx today than ever, an estimated total exceeding 1,000 animals. As far as Maine officials are concerned, Canada lynx are neither threatened nor endangered. They are doing well here. …

Twice in the last three years, animal rights groups have used the ESA’s lynx listing to seek declaratory relief and injunctions in federal court against Maine laws and regulations.

The first lawsuit, Animal Protection Institute v. Martin, resulted in an October 4, 2007, Consent Decree in which IF&W made a commitment to new regulations restricting the type, size, and placement of traps in Maine. IF&W paid $140,000 in attorney’s fees to API as part of that settlement.

Much to the state’s surprise, a similarly-named animal rights group, The Animal Welfare Institute, along with the Wildlife Alliance of Maine — led by people who were a party to the earlier consent decree — filed another lawsuit on August 11, 2008, seeking the same injunctive relief and charging that IF&W was violating the ESA by allowing trapping practices that result in the capture of some lynx. …

While establishing an important precedent, this decision is unlikely to deter the constant filing of lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act. This is simply another chapter — albeit an important one — in this particular war, while we wait for Congress to amend the Act and limit these abuses of the legal system. … [more]



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