USSAF Continues Defending Maine Trappers

USSAF Continues Defending Maine Trappers
Antis Appeal Legal Victory that Established a Precedent Protecting Sportsmen.

U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance
U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance

Maine –-( On March 29, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund (SLDF) led a legal brief with a Federal District Court of Appeals as part of its ongoing defense of both trapping in Maine and a major legal precedent protecting sportsmen nationwide.

The brief is the latest action taken by the SLDF to defend sportsmen from anti-hunting groups that seek to manipulate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in order to block hunting and trapping seasons across the nation.

The latest case was originally filed in 2008 by the Animal Welfare Institute and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The antis argued that Maine’s trapping regulations provided insufficient protection for the Canada lynx, a species listed as threatened under the ESA, and thus required the season to be stopped.

The USSAF, along with the Maine Trappers’ Association, Fur Takers of America, National Trappers’ Association, and several individual sportsmen, argued that the antis must show that Maine’s trapping practices were a threat to the entire Canada lynx population.

In November of 2009, Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. of Maine’s Federal District Court denied the injunction sought by the antis to stop the state’s trapping season. The opinion of Judge Woodcock closely followed the arguments made by the USSAF and others by requiring that plaintiffs looking to shut down a trapping (or hunting or fishing) season prove not only the incidental take of ESA-protected species, but also “irreparable harm” to the entire population. Judge Woodcock concluded that take of individual members of a reasonably numerous protected species does not meet the requirement of irreparable harm in this case.

This decision would make it difficult for antis to shut down hunting and trapping in other states based upon the incidental take of a single animal that falls under ESA protection. The precedent is so important that the antis filed an appeal in December, 2009 seeking to reverse the decision. This prompted the USSAF and others to file a new set of legal briefs in order to defend the hard fought victory.

“The importance of our courtroom win last year can’t be overstated…it makes it much harder for anti-hunting groups to launch a cascade of similar lawsuits from coast to coast to block sportsmen from enjoying their rights,” said Rob Sexton, USSAF vice president for government affairs. “We are confident in our ability to win the appeal and will continue to battle the antis as far as they want to take it.”

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website,

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