PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A federal lawsuit aimed at protecting threatened Canada lynx has ended in a settlement in which state game officials agreed to restrict trapping in northern Maine.
The agreement was formalized Thursday in a consent decree in U.S. District Court in Bangor that bans or restricts certain types of traps and requires the state to monitor and report cases of trapped lynx and rehabilitate injured lynx.
The settlement follows a hearing last week in which Judge John Woodcock indicated that the lawsuit brought by the Animal Protection Institute had a good chance of success.
“I don’t think anyone here is accusing anybody of deliberately trapping lynx, but if trappers are going out … and they accidentally or inadvertently take lynx, then that is a violation of the Endangered Species Act,” Woodcock said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said trappers have caught 34 lynx in the past eight years, and two of those animals died. Maine’s lynx population is estimated at between 200 and 500.
The lawsuit against Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife claimed that the agency is liable for lynx that are accidentally injured or killed by traps set for other animals. Lynx are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The consent decree bans foothold or leghold traps with jaws that open more than 5 3/8 inches and requires killer-type traps to be mounted on poles above ground or snow level.
The Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife plans an emergency rule to make the changes effective for the trapping season that starts this month, Deputy Commissioner Paul Jacques said.
“The consent decree will allow trapping to occur. It just will make it harder for a lynx to get caught in a trap,” he said.
Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com