Canadian lynx killing Maine trappers (or is it the other way around?)

Canadian lynxIf you care about trapping in Maine, you might want to attend one of these public hearings. And if you do care about trapping, you must know the back story.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the Canada Lynx on its endangered species list in 2000. The listing endangered trapping in northern Maine, but it took Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife six years to get an incidental take permit to allow trapping to continue, with significant restrictions, in the area covered by the ESA listing.

And the feds are still working on the mandated Lynx recovery plan. They blame the delay on budget limitations and competing concerns about other endangered species. The feds currently hope to complete a Lynx recovery plan by 2018.

That didn’t satisfy wildlife advocates, and a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in federal court demanding that the recovery plan be completed this year. A second lawsuit was filed  by Friends of Animals, regarding the USF&W’s issuance of an incidental take permit to Maine. That case was recently transferred from Massachusetts to Maine, according to Maine’s Attorney General Janet Mills. Ironically, the case is likely to be heard by Judge John Woodcock who presided over the last case six years ago.

If you would like to know more about that lawsuit, you can access it at this link.

Lynx Deaths

Trapping is not a major factor in the deaths of Lynx in Maine, but trappers are an easy target. DIF&W issued emergency trapping rule changes in December of last year, while reporting that only 2 Lynx were killed by trappers since 2009. In that same time period, 26 Lynx were mowed down by cars. No new limitations were issued for car drivers, but trapping opportunities were significantly reduced.

Unfortunately for Maine trappers, the federal incidental take permit only allowed them to kill 3 Lynx in the next 15 years, and two were killed in traps last fall. James Connolly, DIF&W Director of the Bureau of Resource Management, said at the time, “We are taking immediate steps to drastically decrease the probability of having another lynx killed in a trap.”

Among the new restrictions, lethal traps commonly used to catch fisher and marten were banned above ground or snow level in the Wildlife Management Districts covered by the ESA listing. Foothold traps above the ground or snow level were also banned. Maine game wardens were also dispatched to work with trappers on education, outreach, and compliance with the new regulations.

Brian Cogill, President of the Maine Trappers Association, said, “The Maine Trappers Association has always supported department efforts to protect lynx. Trappers understand and believe that these measures are currently needed, and support these immediate protections for lynx. We look forward to working with the department as they develop long term regulations to protect lynx for the 2015 season and beyond.”


Well, here we are, in the beyond. DIF&W has scheduled two hearings, in Bangor and Portland, on their recommended changes to four methods of trapping: the use of killer-type traps, foothold traps, Hancock style beaver traps, and rat snap traps. You can get the details by contacting Becky Orff at 287-5202 or

The Portland hearing is scheduled for June 23 at 6:30 pm in the Connecticut Room at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring Street in Portland. I’d recommend getting to the city early and enjoying a nice southern-style supper at Hot Suppa on West Congress Street, a short walk from the Holiday Inn.

The Bangor Hearing is scheduled for June 25 at 6:30 pm in Ballroom C at the Hilton Garden Inn, 250 Haskell Road in Bangor. I’d do supper first at Geaghan’s Pub, across from the Civic Center in the same building as the Fireside Inn – although once I got in there, I might not make it to the hearing!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.