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For Immediate Release: 04/18/06

Lawsuit Threatened to Protect Endangered Species from Deadly Traps in Maine & Minnesota

Lynx, gray wolves, and bald eagles illegally injured & killed in body-gripping traps

Sacramento, CA — In an effort to stop the illegal trapping of imperiled species in Maine and Minnesota, the Animal Protection Institute (API) today sent letters of intent to sue the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources unless they take immediate actions to protect threatened and endangered species from deadly body-gripping leghold, Conibear, and snare traps. Copies of the letters were sent to the Governors and Attorneys General of Maine and Minnesota and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests, API has discovered that Canada lynx, bald eagles, and gray wolves are being trapped and frequently killed in body-gripping traps set for other species. In Maine, five threatened Canada lynx were caught in traps in 2005 alone; at least two of the lynx killed were kittens. In Minnesota, records indicate that at least 24 threatened bald eagles were trapped between 1990 and 2005. Of these, more than half died or had to be destroyed.

“Trapping was the very activity that brought many species to the brink of extinction,” says Michelle Thew, API’s Chief Executive Officer. “Yet these same devices are still being allowed to capture and kill the same species our federal government has spent millions of dollars recovering.”

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it is illegal to kill or injure species listed as threatened or endangered. The trapping of protected species constitutes an illegal “taking” under federal law. State officials are responsible for prohibiting this activity since they regulate and oversee trapping.

“These traps are like land mines for wildlife; they do not discriminate,” says Camilla Fox, Director of Wildlife Programs for API. “Any animal, whether an endangered species or a family pet, can fall victim to these deadly devices.”

In 2003, Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe declared the state’s coyote snaring program in violation of the ESA after animal advocates uncovered records indicating that lynx and bald eagles had been trapped in coyote snares in Maine. The coyote snaring program was subsequently suspended indefinitely. API seeks the same result for leghold and Conibear traps, which, like snares, injure and kill lynx and bald eagles. API also seeks similar action from Minnesota.

“By allowing trappers to use traps that pose significant harm to endangered species, these state wildlife agencies are impeding endangered species recovery,” says Fox. “If these agencies do not take action, we intend to sue them — until harm to endangered species is stopped.”

The Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. API is a recognized expert on trapping and produced the internationally-award-winning video Cull of the Wild: The Truth Behind Trapping and companion book, Cull of the Wild: A Contemporary Analysis of Trapping in the United States. For more information, visit www.BanCruelTraps.com.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute (API), 916-447-3085 x205
Photos available

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