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For Immediate Release: 09/20/06

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Endangered Species from Deadly Traps in Minnesota

New study confirms body-gripping traps and snares pose significant danger to endangered animals

Minneapolis, MN — The Animal Protection Institute (API) today filed suit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to stop the agency from continuing to violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by allowing trappers to use traps and snares that injure and sometimes kill threatened and endangered species.

In April 2006, API sent a letter of intent to sue the DNR in an effort to prompt the agency to take immediate actions to protect imperiled species from deadly body-gripping traps and snares. The state failed to respond to API’s letter.

“We are extremely disappointed that the state of Minnesota has chosen to ignore our concerns regarding this serious issue,” says Camilla Fox, Director of Wildlife Programs for API.

Through public records requests, API discovered that species listed under the federal ESA, including Canada lynx, Bald eagles, and Gray wolves have been captured and sometimes seriously injured or killed in body-gripping traps and snares set for other species. Records indicate that at least 25 Bald eagles were trapped between 1990 and 2006 in the state, more than half of which had to be destroyed.

A recently released statewide study of Canada lynx confirmed that traps set for other species, including marten and fisher, pose serious dangers to the lynx.

Under the ESA it is illegal to kill or injure species listed as threatened or endangered. The trapping of protected species constitutes an illegal “taking” under federal law.

“People expect their state government officials to comply with the law,” says Jay Tutchton, attorney representing API in its suit. “The DNR’s violation of the law is obvious, but unfortunately, they are apparently unwilling to comply with the law unless forced.”

“We believe the records we’ve obtained are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Fox. “For every reported non-target animal that falls victim to a trap, there are likely many that go unreported. The clock is ticking and, while the state fails to take action, threatened species continue to die in these deadly devices.”

API is represented by the Environmental Law Clinical Partnership at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law and by Duluth attorney Marc D. Fink.

The Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. More information is available at www.api4animals.org.

API is a recognized expert on trapping and produced the internationally award-winning video Cull of the Wild: The Truth Behind Trapping and companion book, Cull of the Wild: A Contemporary Analysis of Trapping in the United States. For more information, visit www.BanCruelTraps.com.

  • Click here to view the formal complaint.
  • Click here to view a spreadsheet documenting trapped endangered species in Minnesota.


Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute, 916-447-3085 x205

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