As I reported several months ago, the National Trappers Association, Fur Information Council of America, and Montana Trappers Association filed a motion asking the Montana Federal District
Court to throw out the “CITES” lawsuits brought by WildEarth Guardians (WEG) and Center for Biological Diversity (Center) against the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. In layman’s terms, the motion to dismiss argued the lawsuits against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service infringes on the authority of state and tribal governments to manage
If you have read these reports, you
will recall the initial issue in these suits, was the determination by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that CITES reviews are excluded from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The plaintiffs, in their complaint, were asking the federal court to require the USFWS to follow the procedures in NEPA before issuing export permits for Appendix II species under CITES. Regardless that it is the position of both the NTA and USFWS that NEPA does not apply to CITES, the USFWS nonetheless did, after the lawsuits were filed, initiated and completed a NEPA review through an Environmental Review (EA) that upheld the current CITES tagging program used in most states and tribes. After the EA was completed, WEG and the Center amended their complaints arguing that the EA was not sufficient and the USFWS should be required to complete an Environmental Impact Statement, which would take a substantially longer time and would be substantially more costly than an EA. The practical explanation of all this is that if the federal district court granted the relief requested, that USFWS would be forced to complete a very expansive environmental review of an EIS before issuing export permits for bobcat, otter, wolf, and lynx. The result would be that these species could not be shipped or sold internationally, including
internationally from Alaska, until the environmental review was complete.
On March 1, 2018, following oral arguments, the federal judge in Montana
denied the motion to dismiss filed by the NTA and FICA. However, as part
of their argument against our motion, the plaintiffs withdrew their motion
for an injunction. You will recall one of our primary concerns was that even though we are confident any EIS/NEPA review would show there is no harm to the species, in the event plaintiff win the lawsuit, the injunction would effectively stop tagging for several years while the reviews are conducted. Since the plaintiff withdrew their motion for the injunction, tagging would be allowed to continue during any additional NEPA review ordered by the court. This is an extremely good thing and makes the effort and expense of filing the motion worth every minute.
Back in October I reported the animal-welfare group Arizonans for Wildlife had filed the paperwork to collect signatures for a ballot initiative that would outlaw the hunting or trapping of wild cats. On April 3 the Humane Society of the United States pulled the plug on its effort to put the measure on the November ballot citing difficulty in collecting the required 150,642 valid
signatures by July 5.
In a prepared statement, Kitty Block, acting president of The Humane
Society of the United States, said efforts to gather the necessary signatures by July 5 have been hampered by some new Arizona laws governing the circulation of initiative petitions. Block also said there also are “national issues that currently demand our attention.”
Over the past 20 years, the Best Management Practices for Traps and
Trapping have become an invaluable tool in protecting traps and trapping. The
BMPs have become such an integral part of the trapping industry it’s somewhat amusing to recall all the controversy and consternation that gripped the trapping community in the early years. In this issue, Tom Krause has an excellent article detailing the history of the BMPs. I encourage you to take the time to read it.
While on the subject, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA),
has a tremendous website where you will discover an incredible amount of information for use in defending trapping. You will find numerous publications, reports and surveys as well as the latest information regarding BMPs. You can visit the AFWA site at https://www.fishwildlife.org/
The 2018 National Convention is fast approaching. Marty Meierotto from the History Channel’s Mountain Men will be on hand for the entire convention, and well known trapper/bowhunter Tom Miranda will present seminars on both Friday and Saturday. The Upper Peninsula is a unique and beautiful place. The 2014 Escanaba convention was the largest in many, many years. The Michigan U.P Trappers are working extremely hard to make this one even better. I hope you are making plans to attend.