- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Animal welfare advocates are renewing their call for tighter trapping restrictions in Maine after two Canada lynx got caught in traps and died.

Lynx are considered a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act, and Maine wildlife officials ordered new emergency trapping regulations in the northern part of the state after the recent lynx deaths.

Mollie Matteson, senior scientist for the Vermont-based Center for Biological Diversity, said the lynx deaths illustrate the dangers of harvesting animals using lethal traps, a practice she said should be reconsidered.

“The ripple effect of constantly removing hundreds of animals from the ecosystem every year could have dangerous effects in the future,” she said.

The two lynx deaths were the first in six years in Maine, state wildlife officials said.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife said lethal traps used to catch animals, such as the weasel-like marten, will not be permitted above ground or at snow level in parts of Maine where lynx are common. Lethal traps smaller than 7 1/2 inches would still be allowed above ground in certain wildlife management districts if they include a device that would prevent lynx from becoming ensnared.

James Connolly, the state’s chief wildlife biologist, said trapping is important to Maine because it provides a way to manage livestock predators and species that damage commercial forest lands, such as beavers.

The new rules will be in effect for 90 days, giving state officials time to craft a longer-term solution before next year’s trapping season begins in late October, Connolly said.

Maine has about 5,000 licensed trappers, about half of whom are active, he said.

Brian Cogill, president of the Maine Trappers Association, said he supports the state’s latest efforts to protect lynx but believes any wide-scale push to shut down trapping is misguided. He said 26 lynx have been killed by vehicles since 2009.

“We are not going to give up trapping, absolutely not,” Cogill said.

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