14 November 2009

trapping / litigation

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation reports the following updates on legislation affecting trapping:
 •   Maine Trappers Win Major Court Victory - Federal District Court upheld the state’s trapping practices and blocked the establishment of a precedent that could be used by anti-hunting and anti-trapping groups nationwide.
     In 2008, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) seeking a permanent injunction that would have essentially prohibited trapping in the state. The lawsuit claimed that Maine’s trapping regulations violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because Canada lynx, a threatened species under the ESA, could be incidentally caught in traps causing “irreparable harm” to the population.
     Throughout the case, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF), along with the Maine Trappers’ Association, Fur Takers of America, National Trappers’ Association, and several individual sportsmen, argued that the anti-trapping plaintiffs had to show that Maine’s trapping practices were a threat to the Canada lynx population as a whole. The plaintiffs insisted that harm to one individual lynx was sufficient for the Court to prohibit trapping in the state.
     On November 10th, Federal District Court Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. ruled that Maine’s trapping practices did not irreparably harm the Canada lynx and denied the injunction sought by the anti-trappers. Further, the Judge agreed with the state and the USSAF that “irreparable harm” is harm to a species as a whole and not simply one individual member.
     “Although the plaintiffs may appeal the ruling, the Federal Court’s decision is a monumental victory for the trappers in Maine and sets an excellent precedent that will make it harder for the antis to misuse the ESA in their attempts to ban hunting and trapping in other states,” states USSAF Vice President for Government Affairs Rob Sexton.
     “We knew the evidence was on our side and are thrilled with outcome,” said Skip Trask, executive director of the Maine Trappers Association. “The USSAF’s legal assistance was invaluable to the favorable outcome.”
     Chick Andres, President of the Fur Takers of America commented, “Trappers nationwide should be grateful that the court saw through what the anti’s were trying to do.”
     In 2008 the USSAF’s legal arm, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund, was granted permission to intervene in the lawsuit. The case came on the heels of similar case, also in Maine, that was settled in late 2007 when the DIFW agreed to restrict trap sizes in areas where Canada lynx exist.

 •   Massachusetts Pro-Trapping Bill - In July Massachusetts House Bill 736 made it over the first BIG HURDLE it made it out of committee, FAVORABLY. This is the first time for a very long time a significant trapping bill has made it out of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. It can help put Massachusetts back on track to responsible wildlife management.
     This bill will allow the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) to regulate and allow for use during the established furbearer harvest seasons certain live restraint and “quick kill’ devices that adhere to internationally developed ”Best Management Practices (BMPs). These BMPs have been developed over years of field and laboratory testing under the auspices of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA).
     The Original bill HB736 "Protecting our Natural Resources" (NOW HB4172), currently in the House Ways and Means Committee, has been amended to a point where it will not effectively, proactively address beaver, fox or coyote population management and aid in the reduction, or provide a timely proper reaction to wildlife attack. The amended bill is a simply a bureaucratic nightmare and continuation of unreasonable restrictions. Herb Bergquist resides in Shelburne, MA and is president of a new conservation organization here in Massachusetts called the "Committee for Responsible Wildlife Management". As a group, we are extremely concerned about the rising incidence of animal/human conflicts and attacks going on across the Commonwealth.
     Ever since 1996, when the Question One Ballot Initiative took away the ability to proactively manage our wildlife populations using the most effective devices available; beaver, coyote, fox and raccoon populations have increased dramatically... creating the foundation for much of the issues we are seeing today. Current trapping laws in Massachusetts are excessively restrictive and do not allow for the use of the most advanced, effective, and safe devices by licensed and trained individuals. CCS urges ALL MA sportsmen to visit this website and communicate with legislators in support of the original bill.

THANKS TO Robert Crook's newsletter list for providing the links; PHOTO CREDITS (1) Dead Creek Outfitters, (2) Fernando Urrutia

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