Minnesota's State Trapping Program Violates Endangered Species Act
Minneapolis, MN — A federal judge today ruled that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is in violation of the Endangered Species Act for allowing trappers to set traps and snares that catch, injure, and kill Canada lynx, a protected species. The case was filed on behalf of Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) and the Center for Biological Diversity. The court ordered the state to take all action necessary to ensure that no further takings of lynx will occur by trapping activities within core lynx habitat.
"We are very excited about the outcome of this lawsuit; it sends a strong message to other states that body gripping traps should be prohibited," said Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President of Born Free USA. "The state will now have to develop specific, enforceable measures to protect imperiled Canada lynx in its core habitat."
The lawsuit was filed after plaintiffs discovered that Canada lynx have been captured and sometimes seriously injured or killed in traps and snares set for other species. In Minnesota, there have been 13 reported instances of Canada lynx caught in traps since the species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. At least 5 of those animals died.
A similar lawsuit filed by Born Free USA in Maine ended in October 2007 with a judge ordering a ban on certain body-gripping leghold traps, restrictions on the use of "killer-type" traps, and increased reporting structure for incidentally trapped lynx.
According to the Endangered Species Act, killing, injuring, or trapping species listed as threatened or endangered constitutes a "take," and is illegal without a specific exemption from the federal government. According to the suit, Minnesota has been illegally causing takes of lynx by licensing trapping in known Minnesota lynx habitat.
"Today's ruling is a complete victory for Born Free USA, the Center for Biological Diversity, and most importantly the Canada lynx," said Marc Fink, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources had numerous warnings that additional steps were needed to protect lynx from trappers, but it has taken a lawsuit to force the state into action."
Born Free USA and the Center for Biological Diversity were represented by Jay Tutchton of the Environmental Law Clinic Partnership at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, and Marc Fink and John Buse of the Center for Biological Diversity.
A copy of the ruling is available at www.api4animals.org/downloads/pdf/03-31-08_Decision.pdf
Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the US and globally. More information is available at www.bornfreeusa.org.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national non-profit conservation organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Zibby Wilder, Born Free USA, 916.267.7266, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marc Fink, Center for Biological Diversity, 218.525.3884