December 9, 2014

IFW News -- IFW Adopts Emergency Trapping Rule Changes In Northern Maine

For Immediate Release: December 9, 2014

Information Regarding Emergency Rulemaking Required Under Terms Of Maine’s Incidental Take Permit Issued By The U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service

• On November 4th, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife which went into effect on November 17th.

• The purpose of the ITP is to protect licensed Maine trappers in the event a federally protected Canada lynx is accidentally captured in a legal trap set. Lynx are listed as threatened by the USFWS.

• The permit allows for the accidental killing of 3 lynx over the 15 year period the permit remains in effect.

• Since the ITP went into effect, there have been 2 incidents of lynx killed by legally set traps.

Under the conditions of the permit, if two lynx are killed in legally set traps, the department must immediately implement regulatory measures to prevent further lynx fatalities

• The Department adopted an emergency rule on December 9th restricting some of the trap types and sizes that may accidentally capture Canada Lynx in Northern Maine (WMDs 1 - 11, 14, 18, 19). Maine’s regular trapping season ends on December 31st. This rule will remain in effect for 90 days.

• The Department will go through the regular rulemaking process to implement any necessary changes for next year’s trapping season.

Throughout the emergency rulemaking process, the department worked with the Maine Trappers Association, and the MTA board of directors was in full support of these emergency rules to minimize the kill of additional lynx.

Trapping Rule Change Summary

• Effective immediately, killer-type traps are not allowed at or above ground or snow level in areas of the state where there are lynx, specifically Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) 1-11, 14,18,19 (Predominantly Aroostook, northern Somerset, northern Piscataquis, northern Penobscot, northern Hancock and northern Washington counties).

• In WMDs 7,14,18,19, killer-type traps not greater than 7 and one half inches may be used on the ground if the trap is placed within a lynx exclusion device.

• In WMDs 1-11, 14, 18, 19, the use of any foothold trap above the ground or snow level will not be allowed. Footholds can still be used if on the ground, on the snow, or buried under the ground or under the snow

• Killer-type traps with an inside jaw spread that does not exceed 5 inches may be used in WMDS 1-11, 14,18,19 when set so as to be partially covered by water at all times, or when set under overhanging stream banks. These traps can no longer be set in blind sets at or above ground or snow level.

• All killer-type traps may be used if, when set, placed and tended, the trap is completely underwater.

• Colony-style traps may be used if set so they remain completely underwater at all times

IFW News -- IFW Adopts Emergency Trapping Rule Changes In Northern Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine -- The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has implemented immediate trapping regulation changes through an emergency rule making process after two Canada lynx were killed in traps this fall.

“We are taking immediate measures to drastically decrease the probability of having another lynx killed in a trap,” said James Connolly, Director, IFW Bureau of Resource Management.

Effective immediately, lethal traps that are commonly used to catch fisher and marten are not allowed above ground or snow level in areas of the state where there are lynx, specifically Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) 1-11, 14,18,19 (Predominantly Aroostook, northern Somerset, northern Piscataquis, northern Penobscot, northern Hancock and northern Washington counties). In WMDs 7,14,18,19, lethal traps smaller than 7 inches may be used on the ground if the trap is placed within a lynx exclusion device. Additionally, the use of any foothold trap above the ground or snow level will not be allowed in these WMDs.

The new regulations were triggered by a contingency provision in the Department’s incidental take plan developed to obtain a permit under the Endangered Species Act from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the unintended take of Canada lynx resulting from the Department’s trapping programs.

Under the conditions set forth in the incidental take plan, if two lynx are killed by legally set traps, trapping rules will be modified to prevent the likelihood of another lynx being killed.

These are the first lynx trapping deaths in six years in Maine. Statistics show that trapping is not a major factor impacting Maine’s lynx population. Since 2009, there were 26 lynx killed by vehicles, and only 2 by trapping.

“Although trapping related deaths are uncommon, we have worked diligently with Maine trappers in order to change the regulations to protect lynx,” said Connolly. “We are committed to protecting Maine’s lynx population.”

According to Laury Zicari, supervisor of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Maine Field Office, “The incidental take permit for trapping issued to Maine accounted for the possibility of lynx deaths. It outlined what trapping restrictions would need to be implemented if lynx were killed to hopefully avoid additional deaths. We commend Maine’s swift action through these regulation changes to address this issue, demonstrating that the permit framework is working."

The first lynx death was self-reported by the trapper to the Maine Warden Service when he checked his traps as required by Maine regulations and the conditions of the Incidental Take Permit. The second dead lynx was discovered Sunday, December 7 St. Croix Township by a Maine Game Warden conducting a routine check of traps for compliance with Maine trapping regulations. An initial inspection by the game warden showed that the trap was set in compliance with Maine’s trapping regulations. The trapper was immediately notified by the warden about the capture.

“Trapping education, outreach and compliance with Maine trapping laws are important aspect of Maine’s lynx management plan. The Maine Warden Service is in the field, working with trappers, to make sure trappers are complying with Maine’s trapping regulations to protect lynx from accidental trapping,” said Major Chris Cloutier.

Trappers are required to report all lynx captures and all lynx captures are investigated by the Maine Warden Service.

Brian Cogill, President of the Maine Trappers Association commented that “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.”

Lynx are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). IFW recently received an incidental take permit issued by the USFWS, which allows for the accidental trapping of Canada lynx by trappers legally pursuing furbearers in Maine. The permit outlines specific protocols and mitigation measures for the incidental take of lynx that minimizes direct impacts to lynx while providing habitat that benefits species recovery.

In 2006, Maine’s lynx population was estimated at between 750 and 1,000. IFW has increased protections for lynx in those areas where lynx are now found. IFW will also be conducting a lynx population survey this winter.

Maine’s lynx population is a subset of a larger population of lynx in Canada, and Maine lynx continue to interact with a far-reaching lynx population in Canada.

As part of an extensive 12-year lynx study, the IFW radio-collared over 80 lynx and monitored their movements, and documented survival and birth rates. Although more lynx die on roads than in traps, the major source of mortality for the 85 radio-collared lynx tracked over a 12-year period in northern Maine was predation by fisher and starvation attributed to disease (i.e., lungworm).

Radio-collar research of Maine’s lynx show that Maine’s lynx travel in and out of Canada, and ear-tagged Maine lynx have also been captured in Canada. Maine’s lynx study showed that one lynx travelled a straight-line distance of 249 miles from northern Maine into the Gaspe Peninsula.

Another lynx was tracked using a Global Positioning System (GPS) collar after it was trapped and released last fall. Although the lynx was initially trapped northeast of Greenville, in May, the lynx headed east all the way to Fredericton, New Brunswick, before turning around and venturing back to the Greenville area, covering 481 miles from March through December.

-30-