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For Immediate Release: 10/12/06

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Endangered Species from Deadly Traps in Maine

Photo documentation confirms body-gripping traps and snares pose danger to endangered animals

Bangor, ME — The Animal Protection Institute (API) today filed suit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IF&W) to stop the agency from continuing to violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by allowing trappers to use traps that injure and sometimes kill threatened and endangered species.

In April 2006, API sent a letter of intent to sue the Maine IF&W in an effort to prompt the agency to take immediate actions to protect imperiled species from deadly body-gripping traps and snares. API and the State were unable to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the issue.

“We are extremely disappointed that the state of Maine has chosen not to address our concerns regarding this serious issue,” says Camilla Fox, Director of Wildlife Programs for API.

Through public records requests, API discovered that species listed under the federal ESA, including Canada lynx and Bald eagles, have been captured and sometimes seriously injured or killed in body-gripping traps and snares set for other species. In Maine, a minimum of five threatened Canada lynx were caught in traps in 2005 alone; at least two of the lynx killed were kittens.

Under the 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. 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.

“People expect their state government officials to comply with the law,” says Bruce Merrill, a Portland, Maine, attorney representing API in its suit. “Maine IF&W’s violation of the law is obvious, but unfortunately, it is apparently unwilling to comply with the law unless forced.”

In September 2006, API also filed suit in Minnesota where the organization documented 13 Canada lynx incidentally trapped between 2002 and 2005 and at least 24 Bald eagles trapped between 1990 and 2005, more than half of which died or had to be destroyed.

“We believe the records we’ve obtained are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Fox. “For every reported non-target animal that falls victim to a trap, there are likely many that go unreported. The clock is ticking, and while states fail to take action, imperiled species continue to die in these deadly devices.”

In addition to Mr. Merrill, API is represented by the Environmental Law Clinical Partnership at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law.

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. More information is available at www.api4animals.org.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute, 916-447-3085 x205
Photo available

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