ME: Trapper charged in deaths of lynx, gray jay
July 2, 2010
Trapper charged in deaths of lynx, gray jay
AUGUSTA, Maine - A Pennsylvania man is being charged with violating the
Endangered Species Act for allegedly killing two federally protected animals
in northern Maine in late 2008.
A complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Bangor charges that
William McCoy of Fayetteville, Pa., caught a Canada lynx in one of his traps
set in the Aroostook County town of Staceyville and then attempted to
discard the lynx's body. McCoy, 40, also is charged with killing a gray jay
- a protected migratory bird - in another trap that had been illegally set,
according to court records.
Both crimes are considered Class B misdemeanors, punishable by up to six
months in prison. Killing a Canada lynx, which is designated as a threatened
species, also carries a fine of up to $25,000 while killing a migratory bird
carries a fine of up to $15,000.
A temporary resident of Maine during trapping season, McCoy apparently
had been warned earlier in the 2008 trapping season that his traps settings
did not comply with Maine rules intended to deter the accidental capture of
lynx, bald eagles and other protected species.
He was given a warning at the time but less than 10 days later wardens
confiscated 17 of McCoy's traps that again had been illegally set, according
to the complaint filed by Robert Rothe, a special agent working for the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service in Maine.
McCoy pleaded not guilty to the charges on Dec. 3, 2008. But a day later,
wardens checking on McCoy's traps discovered boot tracks in the snow leading
from a tree where the man had set traps before to the dead lynx, discarded
about 50 yards away. The tree where the trap had been set had claw marks,
fur and other signs that the lynx had been caught and died.
During a subsequent interview with wardens and Rothe, McCoy reportedly
confessed to finding the dead lynx in his trap and attempting to hide its
carcass in a panic. He also allegedly admitted to burning the boots he had
been wearing at the time after learning that investigators were spotted at
The death of the lynx in December 2008 as well as other deaths that
season became part of a legal battle between two groups - the Wildlife
Alliance of Maine and the Animal Welfare Institute - and the Maine
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The two organizations had charged that DIF&W was violating the Endangered
Species Act by allowing trapping activities that occasionally injured or
killed lynx. A federal judge later rejected the groups' claims that the
Maine's trapping policies could cause irreparable harm to the state's lynx
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