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Maine emergency trapping rules, 12/9/2014

posted Dec 11, 2014, 6:34 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Dec 11, 2014, 6:35 PM ]
There have been some recent (misleading) headlines to the effect that Maine has "shut down" trapping in response to the killing of two endangered Lynx. By now, I think we know not to believe exclamations like "shut down" or "banned" or "outlawed," etc. when they're made about trapping regulations. That holds true in this case, too.

They didn't shut down trapping in Maine, in general, as evidenced by the following unchanged regulations and programs:
  1. There was no change in the southern part of the State (Figure 1).
  2. No changes for snaring with cable restraints.
  3. No changes for trapping in water.
  4. No change for lethal traps in lynx-exclusion devices in the middle of the state. 
  5. etc.
There's some controversy about those lynx-exclusion devices, that could have been resolved long ago if trappers or officials had been willing to try them--which they were not (ME DIF&W 10/282014). The devices are simply cages or boxes (Figure 2, ME DIF&W 2011) that enclose lethal traps so the traps don't kill the wrong animals--like endangered Lynx or people's dogs. Taking this kind of precaution is a good idea from the perspective of many conservationists and dog owners, but trappers and officials have been reluctant to adopt them.

The big change is that these emergency rules (ME DIF&W 12/9/2014) shut down foothold trapping on land in the northern part of the State. This makes sense in a way, since that's the way many Lynx have been injured (and probably died of their injuries). But, on the other hand, it's not a direct response to the two deaths that triggered the emergency rules. Those two deaths were presumably caused by lethal traps, not by foothold traps.

Meanwhile, a number of major trapping issues are still being ignored in Maine, including the following: 
  • The overly-long trap-checking interval that can leave trapped animals in misery for days.
  • The untried lynx-exclusion devices.
  • The ineffective but deadly predator-control program (Matteson and DeJoy 2014).
  • The trapping of bears.
  • etc.

Diagram of Maine Wildlife Management Districts by Bangor Daily News.
Figure 1: Maine Wildlife Management Districts, with the Lynx zone in green. Diagram from the Bangor Daily News.


Maine DIF&W sample of a Lynx-exclusion device (openings highlighted in orange)
Figure 2: Maine DIF&W sample of a Lynx-exclusion device (ME DIF&W 2011. Openings highlighted by the blogger in orange).

References:

Matteson, Mollie, and Daryl DeJoy. 2014. “Feds Approve Maine Trapping Plan Allowing Rare Canada Lynx to Be Harmed, Killed.” Center for Biological Diversity. November 4. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/canada-lynx-11-04-2014.html.

ME DIF&W. 2011. Lynx Exclusion Device Rule. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/pdfs/Lynx%20Exclusion%20Device%20flyer.pdf.

ME DIF&W. 10/28/2014. Incidental Take Plan for Maine’s Trapping Program. United States Fish & Wildlife Service. Augusta, Maine, USA: Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. http://www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/Canada_lynx.html.

ME DIF&W. 12/9/2014. “IFW Adopts Emergency Trapping Rule Changes In Northern Maine.” Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. December 9. http://www.maine.gov/ifw/aboutus/news_events/pressreleases/single.shtml?id=633146.