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On February 15 the federal judge in Maine issued the Order on the consolidated cases claiming the USFWS inappropriately issued the State of Maine an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for its trapping program. We worked with the FTA and the Maine Trappers Association on the brief writing and NTA legal counsel Gary Leistico appeared at the oral argument on November 3, 2016, in Bangor. This is an important case for all states with a lynx population, or with any ESA listed species. As I’ve stated previously in this space, this is possibly the most critical case trappers have ever faced. A negative ruling would have affected trapping restrictions in most every state for decades into the future. In other words, this is one of the best outcomes for trapping of any case to date. The Order upheld the ITP and dismissed all claims made by the Plaintiffs (Friends Of Animals, et al). A very good outcome.
Notwithstanding the outcome of the ITP case, Maine has suffered severe limitations on trapping because of the Lynx litigations overall. This Order kept it from being any worse, and will greatly assist us in protecting trapping going forward, but trappers in Maine have been seriously negatively impacted with new restrictions. Some of which render many common trap types ineffective. To suggest that this is a great victory for Maine trappers would be disingenuous. The effort in the future with all other impacted states will be to not allow what happened to trappers in Maine without our input.
In Washington, D.C., we are continuing to monitor several bills:
H.R.1438 – “Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act” was introduced March 8, 2017, by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) The bill currently has 64 co-sponsors, all Democrats. This is another attempt to prohibit the use of or possession of snares, bodygrip and foothold traps on our 150 million acres in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
HR 1629, - Rep. Alma Adams (DNC) currently has one co-sponsor Nita Lowey (D-NY) The “Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act” introduced on March 30, 2017, would prohibit the import or export of, and the shipment in interstate commerce of, steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear traps.
H.R. 1727 – “Limiting Inhumane Federal Trapping Act” introduced March 27, 2017, by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (DOR). Currently the lone co-sponsor is our friend Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) who has never seen an anti-trapping bill she
doesn’t like. If passed H.R. 1727 would prohibit personnel of the Department
of the Interior or the Department of Agriculture from using any bodygripping
trap in the performance of their duties, and; 2) prohibit any person from possessing body-gripping traps on property under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior or the Department of Agriculture.
As has become the norm with these proposals, “Body-gripping trap” is defined as any device that is intended to kill or capture an animal by physically restraining any part of the animal on land or in an aquatic environment. As such, both foot-holds and snares would also be prohibited.
If the time comes we need to apply pressure to our elected officials, we will
use the electronic “Alert” system to notify you. If you have not signed up to
receive Alerts you can do so by visiting the NTA website and clicking on the tab
on the front page.
At the state level, Nevada and New Mexico are facing serious anti-trapping
legislation. Trappers in both states have done an excellent job organizing against
these threats. I’m hesitant to comment on the status as things can change
rapidly and print deadlines don’t allow for timely updates. By the time this
magazine arrives in your mailboxes we should know the outcomes.
As I reported in the last issue of American Trapper, on December 9,
2016, the Court issued an Order granting a Stay to the proceedings of the CITES
Tagging lawsuit, pending the completion of analysis of the environmental impacts
of the CITES export program. The Order instructed the Federal Defendants to make available for public view and comment the draft analysis under NEPA.
The draft analysis document has been posted on the Federal Register for public
comment. Notice was sent out to state affiliates, DNRs and everyone in our “Alert” system. I hope you all took the opportunity to comment.
This will be the last issue before the Western Regional Convention, June 9-10 in Sturgis, South Dakota. I know the South Dakota trappers are working hard to make this event a success. I hope you plan to attend. The Black Hills are a beautiful location for a family vacation. The area is rich in western history and culture. The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway and Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway are beautiful drives. Anyone coming from the east should take the time to drive the 35 mile Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) east of Wall. I will certainly be there. Don’t hesitate to grab me and bend my ear if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions. Remember to sign up a friend!