Courtroom Turns into Battleground for Animal Rights- (10/23)
Animal activists are suing the state to derail trapping in Maine. The suit is the latest in a spate of court cases that could lead to the end of trapping, hunting and fishing wherever endangered species exist.
On Oct. 12, the Animal Protection Institute (API) filed a federal lawsuit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW). The case, which is nearly identical to an existing suit in Minnesota, centers around Canada lynx, bald eagles and gray wolves. The API claims that because these federally protected species could be caught in a trap, trapping should be prohibited. There is no data proving that there is a problem.
“The anti’s are not filing these lawsuits to protect the integrity of threatened and endangered species, but rather to advance their own political agenda,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation (USSAF) vice president for government affairs. “They want to establish a legal precedent that can be used to stop all hunting and even fishing anywhere endangered animals exist.”
The USSAF and its U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund (U.S. SLDF) asked the court for permission to join the suit on sportsmen’s behalf. The U.S. SLDF is the nation’s only litigation force that exclusively represents sportsmen’s interests in court.
The U.S. SLDF received permission in September to join in a third anti-trapping lawsuit, which was also brought in Minnesota. The Humane Society of the United States and a smaller animal rights group are suing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to stop trapping because Canada lynx could be caught in a trap. The U.S. SLDF has asked Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Raymond Erickson to combine the suit with the one brought by API in that state.
“Each of these cases could set precedents that would affect how the ESA can be applied throughout the nation,” said Sexton. “If anti’s can stop trapping in a place where they assert there is a risk of catching lynx, they can just as easily try to stop fishing in bodies of water where they claim there is a risk of catching endangered sturgeon.”
Animal rights groups previously used the Endangered Species Act to force the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to suspend trapping with snares. The state’s coyote snaring program is still in limbo as state wildlife officials attempt to obtain incidental take permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the state if any listed species are inadvertently injured or killed in a snare.
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For more information about how you can protect your rights as a sportsman, contact The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, 801 Kingsmill Parkway, Columbus, OH 43229. Phone (614) 888-4868. E-Mail us at info@USSPORTSMEN.org