Thursday, September 21, 2006

Group sues Minnesota over trapping of lynx


Another animal protection group has sued the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, saying the state has done little or nothing to stop accidental trapping of federally protected animals.

The California-based Animal Protection Institute filed suit in federal court in Minneapolis on Wednesday to stop the agency from continuing to violate the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing trappers to use traps and snares that injure and sometimes kill lynx, wolves and eagles.

In April, the group sent a letter of intent to sue the DNR in an effort to negotiate changes in trapping rules. The DNR did not respond.

"They (DNR) are simply ignoring the fact that their (trapping regulations) are leading to the illegal taking of federally protected animals," said Camilla Fox, director of wildlife programs for the institute.

Through state and federal document requests, the institute discovered that species listed under the federal act -- including lynx, bald eagles and wolves -- have been trapped, injured and sometimes killed, in violation of the federal law.

"Instead of taking action to protect the animals, they have instead asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an (exemption) from federal law to simply allow the killing to continue," Fox said.

Records indicate that at least 25 bald eagles were trapped between 1990 and 2006 in the state, Fox said, 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.

In July, the Humane Society of the U.S. and Help Our Wolves Live filed a similar federal lawsuit, saying the state has failed to take any action to change trapping rules to protect lynx.

Interaction with humans seems to be the leading cause of death for lynx in Minnesota. Nearly half the radio-collared lynx in Northeastern Minnesota being studied to determine their population and habitat needs have been killed by traps, shootings, cars or trains.

DNR officials have said the agency has taken ample steps to inform trappers how to avoid lynx and other protected species. An agency wildlife official did not return a phone call for comment Wednesday. news/local/15571085.htm

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