Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Group Sues Maine Over Failing to Protect Bald Eagles: Eagles Ending Up Dead in Traps

You’ll see rhetoric from the fur people and of course their buddies in the government. But what is important to keep in view is that these eagles were killed. Plain and simple. And that is illegal. Whining from the other side will not change the facts.


Animal rights group sues state over trapping

BANGOR - An animal rights group is suing Maine for allegedly failing to protect bald eagles and Canada lynx from being inadvertently caught in traps.

The lawsuit brought Thursday by the California-based Animal Protection Institute seeks to end trapping that could inadvertently capture, injure or kill eagles, lynx and gray wolves, all of which are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Camilla Fox, director of wildlife programs for the Animal Protection Institute, said her group couldn't reach a satisfactory resolution with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife after issuing a warning last spring that it planned to sue.
"The ball is essentially in (the state agency's) court to implement any regulatory changes to protect endangered species in the state," she said.

Inland Fisheries Commissioner Roland "Danny" Martin is named as defendant in the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. The group is suing on behalf of the group's roughly 250 members in Maine, Fox said.

The group contends that at least 21 lynx have been inadvertently trapped in Maine since 2001. Most of the lynx were released alive, but at least two of the five lynx found in traps in 2005 died. One bald eagle was caught in traps in 2001 and in 2002. Both birds either died of their wounds or had to be euthanized.

There have been no reports of gray wolves being trapped in Maine in recent years. State wildlife officials say there are no breeding pairs in Maine.

Maine has about 2,500 registered trappers who seek out fur-bearing animals such as beaver, fox, otter and weasel. But the number of lynx, eagles or other protected species caught in the traps is "very minimal," said Mark Latti of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

If successful, the lawsuit could end some or all trapping in much of Maine. Latti said that could create big problems.

"Basically, we would have unchecked populations of small, fur-bearing animals," Latti said. "People can see what kind of damage beavers can do with their numbers in check. Without trapping, their numbers would grow incredibly quick."

Animal protection groups used the Endangered Species Act to force the state to suspend its controversial coyote snaring program in 2003 after at least two eagles and one lynx were killed in snares.

Skip Trask, a representative for the Maine Trappers Association, called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said trapping poses no threat to lynx or eagle populations in the state.
"These animal rights groups don't have a clue of what is going on in Maine, and they obviously don't care," he said. "Their goal is to end all trapping and they think nothing of using the federal Endangered Species Act to achieve that goal."

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