St. Paul – A federal judge this week approved a DNR plan that
will allow trappers in the Arrowhead region of the state the
ability to continue to trap other species, while abiding by
restrictions that limit the incidental take of the federally
protected Canada lynx.
Ed Boggess, deputy director of the DNR’s Division of Fish and
Wildlife, said the decision came about three months after the
department was ordered to submit a plan to better protect lynx, in
order to comply with the Endangered Species Act.
State trappers north and east of Hwy. 53 will need to follow
some new guidelines this fall, Boggess said.
“It’s going to require some changes to how they trap … but it
does allow trapping to continue,” he said.
The court action was the result of a lawsuit brought against the
DNR by the Animal Protection Institute (now called Born Free USA)
and the Center for Biological Diversity. In March, the court
ordered the DNR to, by April 30, apply to the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service for an “Incidental Take Permit” for Canada lynx
for the state’s trapping program, and to develop and submit a
proposal “to restrict, modify, or eliminate … the incidental taking
of Canada lynx through trapping activities in the core Canada lynx
The DNR has applied to the USFWS for an ITP, and it submitted
its proposal to the court on April 30. In May, in response to
objections filed by the plaintiffs, the DNR modified its proposal,
“to include a prohibition on the use of fresh meat as bait,” the
court order says.
The new rules agreed upon will take effect when the fall
trapping season gets under way – Oct. 25 this year.
“Upon implementation of the regulatory and programmatic changes
as set forth in the state’s proposal, the state will be in
compliance with Section 9 of the ESA,” the court order says.
Other changes for Arrowhead trappers this fall include:
€ Land snares must have cable that’s not less than 5/64 of an
€ The loop of a snare must not be less than 8 inches.
€ Conibear (body-gripping) traps larger than 5 inches and
smaller than 7.5 inches must be at least 3 feet above the ground or
snow; on a tree or leaning pole that’s 6 inches or less in
diameter; or in a cubby box with an opening of no more than 50
square inches, and the trap recessed at least 7 inches into the
€ No hare or rabbit may be used as bait.
€ No flagging may be used within 20 feet of the trap.
€ There are no restrictions on foothold traps, but they must be
staked with chains or cables no longer than 18 inches, and must
have at least two swivels.
The changes will have little effect on northeast Minnesota
trappers, according to Gary Meis, president of the Minnesota
Trappers Association. He called Judge Michael Davis’ decision “very
honest, very thorough, and a very professional decision.”
Meis called the judge’s decision “not a 100-percent victory, but
certainly a 90-percent victory,” on the MTA’s website.
As part of the order, the DNR must report all incidental take of
lynx to the API and the CBD, as well as the MTA. Boggess said the
department already makes such submissions to the USFWS.
Boggess said the state’s fall hunting and trapping guide is
already in process of being printed, thus, changes for the
northeast won’t be included. However, he said the booklet will
alert trappers to the possible changes.
With those changes now approved, he said the DNR would inform
trappers of those changes through mailings, web site notices, and
Because the Canada lynx was listed as threatened in 2000 (in
Minnesota, Maine, and the Rocky Mountain region), it’s managed by
the USFWS. Trapping of the species was banned in Minnesota in
According to the court order, the latest changes to trapping
protocol will remain in effect until the USFWS issues an Incidental
Take Permit to the state of Minnesota, the USFWS issues a rule that
addresses the incidental take of Canada lynx resulting from
trapping activities, the lynx is removed from federal ESA
protection, or the court orders otherwise. In the order, Judge
Davis ruled the court would retain jurisdiction of the case – to
modify or terminate the order, or to resolve disputes that might
Plaintiffs in the case said the decision was long overdue.
“The state has essentially agreed to do what it should have done
eight years ago when the lynx was first designated as a threatened
species,” said Marc Fink, an attorney for the CBD, in a press
release. “Unfortunately, it took a number of lynx caught in traps
and then a lawsuit to force Minnesota to take the required
Dave Schad, director of the DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife,
said in a court statement that there were “13 identified incidental
takes of Canada lynx in Minnesota, five of which were lethal
takes,” during the past trapping season.
Schad said state officials believe the changes will eliminate
future lethal takes and greatly reduce – if not eliminate – future
non-lethal take of Canada lynx.