Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 17, 2015

Contacts:  Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 318-1487 or
Daryl DeJoy, Wildlife Alliance of Maine, (207) 479-2252 or
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128 or
Doug Ruley, Vermont Law School Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, (802) 831-1624 or

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Canada Lynx From Trapping Deaths, Injuries in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine— Wildlife conservation and animal welfare organizations filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allowing trappers in Maine to kill and seriously injure Canada lynx, a federally protected cat. Plaintiffs include the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlife Alliance of Maine and the Animal Welfare Institute.

Each year Maine trappers targeting coyotes, foxes, mink and other animals unintentionally kill and seriously injure Canada lynx, one of the rarest cats in the United States. Because lynx are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the state cannot authorize such “incidental” harm to lynx without an “incidental take permit” issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Today’s lawsuit challenges the Service’s permit issued to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife last year covering the state’s trapping programs.

“I’m outraged that endangered lynx continue to needlessly suffer and die in cruel traps,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “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.”

The lawsuit argues that Maine’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 a proper analysis of environmental impacts.

“Sickening reports of lynx deaths and injuries, as well as an unknown number of unreported incidents, show that the state and feds are doing a haphazard job providing lynx the protections required under the law,” said Daryl DeJoy, executive director of Wildlife Alliance of Maine. “We hope that this lawsuit brings necessary changes to Maine’s trapping programs that will help ensure the lynx’s survival in Maine.”

The challenged permit allows, over the next 15 years, for three trapped lynx to be killed, nine to suffer severe injury and subsequent rehabilitation, and 183 to suffer “minor” injuries and be immediately released. Since the permit was issued in November 2014, trappers have already reported killing two lynx and capturing more than 20 others. More have likely fallen victim to traps, as the Service reports that 75 percent of trapped lynx are not reported.

“As has unfortunately become commonplace within the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency’s biologists advocated for greater protections for the lynx only to be trumped by agency administrators,” said DJ Schubert, wildlife biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute. “The Service must protect lynx from the death and suffering inherent to trapping and not capitulate to a state agency more interested in a handful of trappers than the protection and recovery of the lynx.”

The organizations object to, among other things, the use of body-gripping Conibear traps, cable restraints and foothold traps in areas where lynx live. Conibear traps, for example, snap shut in a viselike grip and have killed lynx in Maine on numerous occasions; but the Service’s permit does not require simple exclusion devices that are effective in preventing lynx deaths. Today’s lawsuit also challenges Maine’s plan for mitigating harm to lynx, which largely relies on lynx habitat management, even though the Service’s own biologists found that the mitigation habitat would be too small to offset the harm to lynx.

“Instead of enforcing the law, the Fish and Wildlife Service caved by failing to require the measures needed to protect Canada lynx,” said Doug Ruley, an attorney with the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School.

Plaintiffs are represented by Vermont Law School’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic and local counsel, Sean Mahoney of Conservation Law Foundation Maine. Attorneys with the Center for Biological Diversity also are participating in the case.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, visit

The Wildlife Alliance of Maine is dedicated to advocate on behalf of Maine’s wildlife and to promote a conservation ethic that represents non-consumptive wildlife users.

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