Original language


United States of America
Date of text
Type of court
Court name
United States Court of Appeals
Reference number
2010 WL 4104633 (C.A.1 (Me.))
Injunctive Relief, Wildlife, Remedies, Standing, Permits, Constitutional, Criminal, Evidence, Jurisdiction
Free tags
Wild species & ecosystems
Animal welfare organizations sued the State of Maine under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to stop the authorization of trapping activity that allegedly affected threatened Canada lynx. The Court of Appeals held that such organizations had standing to sue where an organization’s purposes were to advocate for wildlife and reduce pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans, and members stated they wished to observe lynx in the wild and that trapping regulations would interfere with that interest by increasing lynx's risk of death. However, the Court of Appeals held that the District Court did not err in its refusal to grant a permanent injunction banning foothold traps or other relief, such as new working group or new regulations. The district court's denial of a permanent injunction was not an abuse of discretion. It differentiated its “nuanced” approach from the two opposite per se rules advanced by the opposing parties. The plaintiffs maintain that harm to a single animal constitutes irreparable harm while defendants argue that only a threat to the entire species constitutes irreparable harm. Rejecting both approaches, the court “accept[ed] the principle that the death of a single animal” may call for an injunction in some circumstances, while in others “the death of one member is an isolated event that would not call for judicial action,” because it has only a “negligible impact on the species as a whole. The court's issuance of injunctive relief as to Conibear traps while declining to issue relief as to foothold traps demonstrates the point. The factual findings which supported the denial of injunctive relief are not challenged. Denial of that relief was not error.