Anti-trapping groups have filed a sixty-day notice of intent to sue the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks seeking to ban or severely restrict trapping in the state. WildEarth Guardians and other anti-trapping groups are claiming that the state’s trapping regulations provide insufficient protections for Canada Lynx, a species listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
A sixty-day notice of intent to sue is a procedural step required by the ESA before a lawsuit can be filed.
“Anti-trapping organizations have used this same backdoor tactic to try and ban trapping in both Maine and Minnesota,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation senior vice president. “It is another prime example of their misuse of the ESA in the courts as a tool to ban hunting, fishing, or trapping.”
USSAF intervened in similar lawsuits in Maine and Minnesota to protect hunting, fishing, and trapping. In 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit unanimously agreed with a favorable lower court ruling for sportsmen in Maine, stopping anti-trapping groups from using the Canada Lynx’s status as threatened to shut down trapping in that state. However, sportsmen should not assume that the hard fought success in Maine will mean sportsmen will automatically win a similar lawsuit in Montana.
These lawsuits, and the threatened lawsuit in Montana, should concern all sportsmen – not just trappers. If successful, they could set a very far-reaching precedent that could allow anti-hunting organizations to use the ESA in the courts to also ban hunting and fishing.
USSAF, through its Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund, will evaluate the lawsuit if, or when, it is filed.
Groups filing the notice include WildEarth Guardians, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Wild Swan, and Native Ecosystems Council.