USSAF and Others Continue Defending Pro-Sportsman Court Decision

USSAF and Others Continue Defending Pro-Sportsman Court Decision
Oral Arguments Heard in Maine Trapping Case Appeal.

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

Columbus, OH –-( The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) completed oral arguments during a legal hearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of Maine trappers.

The long-standing case prompting the hearing will have a far reaching impact by establishing whether anti-hunting groups seeking to manipulate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be able to block hunting and trapping seasons across the nation.

“This is the latest in a long line of steps taken by the USSAF and our partners to protect not only trappers in Maine, but sportsmen nationwide,” said Rob Sexton, USSAF vice president for government affairs while referring to the oral arguments made on September 8.

“If the anti-hunters win, they will use this example in court room after court room across the nation to deny trapping and hunting everywhere.”

In November of 2009, Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. of Maine’s Federal District Court denied the injunction sought by Animal Welfare Institute and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine to stop the state’s trapping season. The groups had originally filed suit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in 2008, arguing that 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 Canada lynx population.

The opinion of Judge Woodcock closely followed the arguments made by the USSAF and others by requiring that plaintiffs looking for an injunction 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 lynx population. Judge Woodcock concluded that the take of individual members of a reasonably numerous protected species does not necessarily meet the requirement of irreparable harm. He also indicated that the take of lynx occurring in Maine foothold traps, typically catch-and-release incidents, did not constitute irreparable harm in this case. Consequently, Judge Woodcock declined the injunction and the trapping season was able to take place.

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.

According to Sexton, “We continue to feel confident in our case and will keep pressing ahead to be sure the ESA is not hijacked by those that want to shut down practically all sportsmen activities.”

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. Visit