Today Friends of Animals (FoA) is taking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to task for allowing 195 Canada lynx to be trapped and three killed, over a 15-year period, when trappers are catching and slaughtering other furbearing mammals in Maine.
A judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit targeting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service‘s decision to grant an “incidental take” permit for Canada lynx in Maine. Two separate lawsuits by Friends of Animals and Center for Biological Diversity have been combined into one action that will be heard by U.S. District Judge Jon Levy.
FoA believes USFWS’ decision is unthinkable because it sacrifices members of a species listed as threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—Canada lynx are expected to decline by 65 percent in the next two decades.
FoA was outraged when two Canada lynx were killed shortly after the rules went into place in November 2014.
FoA is adamant that in issuing the permit the agency violated its statutory obligations under the ESA by failing to ensure the incidental take of Canada lynx would be minimized. “We are concerned that the permit allows for the unnecessary killing of Canada lynxes and not only allows for the continued barbaric practice of trapping furbearing animals, but eases regulations of it,” said Michael Harris, director of FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “Our goal is to protect the Lynx and place more barriers on the killing of animals using traps.”
Harris pointed out that the permit strips away numerous regulatory requirements currently in place under a 2007 Consent Decree that better minimize the chance of lynx take by fur trappers. Specifically several restrictions on the use traps intended to protect lynx were eliminated by the permit, and the permit overall eases the regulation of trapping in Maine. That Consent Decree was intended to protect lynx from trapping activities until 2029.
“When we filed our lawsuit in 2015, Dan Ashe, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had told a small group of conservationists and others at a meeting held in Missoula, Montana, that he sees a ‘giant clash’ between conservation and economic development, and that he believes that conservationists ‘must accept a world with fewer wolves, salmon, and spotted owls,’ ” Harris said. “The head of the federal agency most responsible for the protection of America’s wildlife went on to say that, in the name of compromise, we must accept ‘a world with less biodiversity.’ This case— challenging the issuance of an incidental take permit to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the take of Canada lynx—is the direct result of just such a compromise.” We are hopeful that after Dan Ashe leaves his position, the new director for USFWS is more progressive and conscientous when it comes to making decisions on behalf of wildlife in the United States.