Lawsuit launched to protect Minnesota’s lynx from trapping

MINNEAPOLIS — The Center for Biological Diversity today notified the Minnesota DNR of plans to sue the agency for permitting trapping that harms Canada lynx, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

In the past decade, state and federal agencies have documented captures of 16 lynx in traps set for other wildlife in Minnesota, six of which resulted in death. As few as 50 of the rare cats may remain in the state, the Center for Biological Diversity said in a news release.

Trapping of Canada lynx, unless covered by a specific permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, constitutes an illegal “take” under the Endangered Species Act, even if accidental, according to the news release.

In a previous lawsuit filed by wildlife conservation groups, a Minnesota federal court in 2008 held the state liable for harm to lynx caused by trapping. It ordered the state to apply to the Fish and Wildlife Service for a permit to cover its trapping program. But the state never obtained the permit.

The court also ordered the state to better protect lynx by issuing regulations to restrict trapping in core lynx habitat. But even after these additional measures went into effect, the rare cats have continued to get caught in traps.

The lawsuit will seek additional measures to prevent trappers from hurting Canada lynx, such as requiring placement of certain traps within “lynx exclusion devices” that prevent lynx deaths. Conibear traps snap shut in a viselike grip and have killed lynx on numerous occasions, but the department does not require trappers to place them within exclusion devices.

The notice letter starts a 60-day clock, after which the Center can file its lawsuit to compel the state to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

— Center for Biological Diversity

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