Lawsuit seeks to prevent unintentional trapping of protected Canada lynx

Canada lynx (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A wildlife conservation group sued the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this week, claiming the agency is allowing trappers to continue killing Canada lynx, despite the animals being on the Endangered Species List.

The trappers are not trying to catch lynx, but the cats still find their way into traps legally set for bobcats, fishers, pine marten, and other furbearing species. The legal animals are sold for their fur, with the trapping season opening on Dec. 19 this year.

Wildlife managers have documented 16 lynx in the past decade that have been caught in traps. There is a small but robust population of lynx in northeastern Minnesota, which probably falls between about 50 and 100 animals. Lynx were protected by the federal Endangered Species Act in 2000, and protected by the state of Minnesota in 1984.

“Trapping, habitat destruction, climate change, and other threats continue to harm the Canada lynx today,” the lawsuit argues. “Minnesota is one of the few places left in the United States that contains lynx habitat with the quality and quantity to sustain lynx populations.”

The suit follows another legal battle in 2008, which ended with the DNR being required by the court to obtain a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service to cover trapping and its inadvertent impacts on lynx. Obtaining this permit would require the agency to complete a habitat conservation plan that explains how the state will minimize the accidental trapping of lynx.

The Center for Biological Diversity says that, 12 years later, the DNR has still not obtained that permit, nor taken other court-ordered steps.

“Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources knows how to prevent lynx trapping deaths, but it refuses to act,” said Collette Adkins, the Center for Biological Diversity’s carnivore conservation director. “State wildlife managers appear to be dead set on appeasing the tiny percentage who still trap. We hope this lawsuit finally convinces them to make common-sense changes to the trapping program to prevent needless agony and death for these beautiful wild cats.”

The court also required the DNR to change trapping regulations to prevent lynx getting caught. Measures included restricting types of traps and bait in lynx habitat, create a hotline to report lynx trapping, and rehabilitate injured lynx. But the wildlife advocates say those steps haven’t worked, and more is needed.

canada lynx
Photo by Keith Williams / Creative Commons

The lawsuit seeks to force the DNR to get a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and require traps in the northeast part of the state where lynx are found to have a “lynx exclusion device” that will prevent lynx capture.

In 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would remove Canada lynx from the Endangered Species List. No progress on the proposal has since been reported.

More information:

Get Quetico Superior Wilderness News straight to your inbox

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap