Lawsuit Launched to Protect Minnesota’s Rare Lynx From Trapping

State-permitted Fur Trapping Leads to Illegal Killings, Captures of Wild Cat

MINNEAPOLIS- The Center for Biological Diversity today
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/w/documents/31/Lynx_MN_Sec_9_–_NOI_12_
3_2019_to_send.pdf> notified the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
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.

“It’s outrageous that Minnesota’s lynx keep needlessly suffering and
dying in indiscriminate traps,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s
carnivore conservation director. “The state needs to step up and implement
sensible changes to prevent the tragic deaths of these highly imperiled
cats. Minnesota’s rare animals shouldn’t be strangled in neck snares.”

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.

Every year in Minnesota, a small number of trappers kill
<https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/recreation/hunting/trapping/harvest_17-18.pdf
> thousands of bobcats, pine martens and other wildlife, largely to sell
their furs.

In a previous lawsuit filed by wildlife conservation groups, a Minnesota
federal court in 2008
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2008/lynx-07-14-200
8.html> 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.

“Year after year we see sickening reports of lynx getting caught and even
killed by traps, but the state refuses to act,” said Adkins. “Minnesota’s
wildlife managers would rather appease a small number of trappers than
protect these beautiful wild cats. We hope this lawsuit will finally
convince the state to make lynx conservation a true priority.”

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.

Today’s 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.

Background

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) are distinguished from bobcats by their tufted
ears, hind legs that appear longer than front legs, and a pronounced goatee
under the chin. Their large paws work like snowshoes and enable them to walk
on top of deep, soft snows. These cold‐loving cats feed predominantly on
snowshoe hares but may also eat birds and small mammals and scavenge
carcasses.

The lynx was listed as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered
Species Act in 2000. Its federally designated “critical habitat” includes
northeastern Minnesota.

Trapping, habitat destruction, climate change and other threats continue to
harm the Canada lynx. Although once more widespread, lynx currently reside
in small breeding populations in Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, Washington and
Maine. A reintroduced population also resides in Colorado. Currently,
biologists estimate, 50 to 200 lynx may range in northern Minnesota.

Last year the Trump administration
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2018/canada-lynx-01
-11-2018.php> announced plans to remove federal protection from lynx but has
not yet moved forward with an actual proposal.

<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/resourcespace/pages/search.php?search=%
21collection531&k=127e8fd67e> Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), Washington Dept
FWS.
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/resourcespace/pages/search.php?search=%
21collection531&k=127e8fd67e> Additional photos and video available for
download here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation
organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists
dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

<https://biologicaldiversity.org/>

<https://biologicaldiversity.org/news/breaking/> More Press

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/lawsuit-launched-to-pr
otect-minnesotas-rare-lynx-from-trapping-2019-12-03-2019-12-04/?fbclid=IwAR1
XZtGtTp6cKY-SCelXobX1TlYqb3hn3ba53pezgo0dAJsOqOSgJ8XRJg4#.XefF0Mdzx3A.facebo
ok

Minnesota put on notice over incidental trapping of lynx

The group believes that Minnesota is not following the Endangered Species Act.

An environmental group has put the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on notice that it plans to sue the agency for failing to protect Canada lynx from trappers.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a 60-day notice on Wnesday as required by federal law before it can file a lawsuit to try to force the state to follow the Endangered Species Act. The notice says the state has failed to comply with a 2008 federal court order that’s meant to protect lynx from being caught by trappers seeking other species.
The group says state and federal agencies have documented captures of 16 lynx over the past decade in traps that were set for other species in northern Minnesota, including six that resulted in deaths of the rare cats.
The center cites a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report that puts Minnesota’s Lynx population at between 50 and 200. The DNR says the number present at any given time is not known, but genetic analysis in recent years has identified nearly 100 individual lynx in the state.
DNR Deputy Commissioner Barb Naramore said her agency believes it’s in “full compliance” with the Endangered Species Act and the 2008 court order.

Fisher, marten trapping season later this year

The Minnesota season for fisher and marten trapping is later than usual this year. (file / News Tribune)
The Minnesota season for fisher and marten trapping is later than usual this year. (file / News Tribune)

A reminder to trappers that the Minnesota season for fishers and martens has been moved a few weeks later than usual. The season previously started the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but this year is set for Dec. 21-29.

The limit is two combined. The first registration date is Dec. 31.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials said the change was supported by the Minnesota Trappers Association.

Park Service looks to solve mystery deaths of Isle Royale wolves

https://www.duluthnewbune.com/news/science-and-nature/> SCIENCE AND
NATURE

Mark Romanski, division chief for natural resources at Isle Royale, said at
this point the Park Service doesn’t have many answers.

Written By: Evan James Carter / Detroit News | Oct 6th 2019 – 1pm.

317

<https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/incoming/4675473-h3wd27-092419.N.DNT.isle
roiyalewolvesC1.jpg/alternates/BASE_LANDSCAPE/092419.N.DNT.isleroiyalewolves
C1.jpg>

A wolf from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is released on Isle Royale in
September 2019. The island now has 17 wolves, up from two a year ago. Photo
courtesy National Park Service.

ISLE ROYALE – One year into its effort to reestablish the wolf population on
Isle Royale, the National Park Service and its partners have a problem: Some
of the new wolves died and nobody knows why.

Since the Park Service began its relocation efforts in September 2018, 19
wolves have been transplanted from Minnesota, Ontario, Canada and Michigan’s
Upper Peninsula. Three of the wolves have died, the most recent on Sept. 15.
Another wolf left the island for mainland Ontario on an ice bridge in
January.

The number of wolves on the archipelago in Lake Superior is now 17: nine
males and eight females. Before the repopulation efforts began in fall 2018,
there were only two island-born wolves left roaming the island.

As the Park Service follows the progress of the newly relocated wolves, it
is also trying to ensure more wolves don’t die so soon after being
transported to the island.

Mark Romanski, division chief for natural resources at Isle Royale, said at
this point the Park Service doesn’t have many answers.

When dealing with wild animals, Romanski said it’s not unexpected that some
will die after being transported because the process of capturing and
relocating the animals can be stressful for them.

“And although we do everything we can to quickly handle the animal and get
them out to the island, of course, each animal is different,” Romanski said,
“and so they handle stress differently or maybe their capture event was
different or different combinations of circumstances.”

The Park Service has now changed its procedures so that the time between the
capture of a wolf and its release on the island is less than 24 hours,
instead of 36-48 hours when the effort began, Romanski said.

Dean Beyer, Wildlife Research Biologist with the Michigan Department of
Natural Resources, helps capture wolves that would make good candidates for
the move.

Beyer said that wildlife capture and relocation is something that scientists
can’t totally control and that death is sometimes part of the process. He
said it is important to minimize risk for animals when they’re captured and
handled by members of the DNR.

“We do everything we can do on the front end,” Beyer said. “So we develop
capture plans and all the people involved in the work have gone through
extensive training in terms of how to capture and handle animals and how to
chemically immobilize them.”

He also said that all the DNR’s plans are reviewed by wildlife
veterinarians.

One possible factor in the deaths may be a phenomenon called capture
myopathy, a complex physiological process that involves high levels of
stress resulting in damage to muscle tissues. The breakdown in the muscles
can release toxins in the bloodstream which may result in shock, or damage
to organs such as the kidneys.

Michelle Verant, a veterinarian for the National Park Service stationed out
of Fort Collins, was tasked with monitoring the wolves while they were
transported to Isle Royale.

She said that there wasn’t evidence of capture myopathy in the first wolf
that was tested by the Park Service, but said that doesn’t necessarily rule
it out.

“And then this final wolf, thankfully we were able to collect that carcass
pretty quickly and it is currently at the National Wildlife Health Center
getting a full necropsy,” Verant said. “And we may get some evidence there
to suggest whether capture myopathy was involved.”

Here’s what the National Park Service knows about the death of three wolves
transported to Isle Royale:

The first wolf, a male from northeast Minnesota, died in October 2018, about
one month after being transported to the island. The Park Service wasn’t
able to retrieve the carcass until a week after the wolf died because it
didn’t have personnel on the island.

The carcass of the wolf was sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in
Madison, Wis., where they performed a necropsy. The lab determined the wolf
died of pneumonia, but the Park Service doesn’t know how the wolf contracted
the illness.

The second wolf, a male from mainland Ontario, likely died in early April
2019, after being transported to Isle Royale in late February. The Park
Service wasn’t able to retrieve the carcass from the swamp it was in until
May, at which point the carcass was too far decomposed to send in for
necropsy.

Romanski said there wasn’t external evidence of the wolf getting into some
kind of fight, though the Park Service doesn’t ultimately know what happened
to him.

The third wolf, a female from the Upper Peninsula, likely died on Sept. 15
when a mortality signal was sent from its collar. It had been moved to the
island on Sept. 13 and was recovered by Park Service staff on Sept. 17.

The carcass was submitted to the National Wildlife Health Center for
necropsy Sept. 24.

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/science-and-nature/4708502-Park-Servi
ce-looks-to-solve-mystery-deaths-of-Isle-Royale-wolves?fbclid=IwAR2RDbGEB3xx
5W2xLTTGPenupabWVYgkRCt2kmyojk2QrTn3puMv33tvl-o

Federal agency hears testimony on fate of gray wolves

Minnesota DNR
Minnesota DNR

BRAINERD, Minn. – Federal officials are weighing testimony from the only public hearing in the country on the government’s latest attempt to take gray wolves off the endangered and threatened species list.

The proposal would return management of the wolves to the states, potentially subjecting them to hunting and trapping. In most states it’s illegal to kill a wolf unless it’s threatening a person.

Officials explained at the hearing Tuesday night in the east-central Minnesota city of Brainerd that they no longer consider gray wolves endangered. They’ve made a dramatic recovery since they were protected in 1974.

But supporters of the protections said removal is premature. While wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the northern Rockies have rebounded, they haven’t fully recovered across their historic range.

https://kfgo.com/news/articles/2019/jun/26/federal-agency-hears-testimony-on-fate-of-gray-wolves/

By one vote, Minnesota House moves to ban wolf hunting

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

By a one-vote margin, the Minnesota House on Tuesday voted to ban hunting on wolves — a victory for wolf protectionists hoping to gird against the Trump administration’s plan to remove protections for the iconic animal.


UPDATE: On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz said he supports a ban as well


A ban on wolf hunting would be a reversal for Minnesota — the only state in the Lower 48 where the animals were never eradicated and the first to adopt a hunting season when it became legal again several years ago.

Today, wolf hunting isn’t allowed — but only because the animal is on the federal endangered species list. Under current state law, if wolves were removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act — as the Trump administration has announced it plans to seek — they could be hunted as soon as fall 2020, although some think a hunt this fall could be possible.

From 2012 to 2014, hunting and trapping seasons were held on wolves, until a federal judge ruled that the plans of Upper Midwestern states — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan — were inadequate.

Biologists with the Department of Natural Resources have said the wolf population, which is most concentrated in the northeast portion of the state, is stable and able to withstand limited hunting and trapping. In September, the agency estimated the population around 2,655 wolves in 465 wolf packs.

WOLF-HUNTING POLITICS

But the question of whether to hunt them has remained divisive and the politics of wolf protections have often crossed party lines.

In broad strokes, metro lawmakers have often opposed hunting, while those in greater Minnesota have tended to be in favor of allowing it. That often has meant Democrats have opposed it, while Republicans have supported a hunt — but that’s an overly simplistic view.

Gov. Mark Dayton, for example, a Minneapolis Democrat, allowed the resumption of hunting in 2014, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also a Minneapolis Democrat and presidential candidate, has been a vocal supporter, often suggesting a “Governor’s Wolf Hunting Opener” when speaking to hunting groups. Each year for years, some lawmaker has proposed banning wolf hunting, but it’s never gained enough traction.

That phenomenon of crossing party lines was on display Tuesday, when state Rep. Rick Hansen, a hunter and one of the leaders of the House Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Caucus on hunting-related issues, announced he would vote in favor of the wolf-hunting ban, but he recommended to his fellow lawmakers, “Vote your districts.” In other words, Hansen said, this issue is beyond mere party unity.

The ban was proposed by Rep. Peter Fischer, DFL-Maplewood, as an amendment to a larger environment and natural resources bill.

The amendment passed 66-65.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Dave Orrick

@DaveOrrick

By ONE VOTE, MN House votes to ban wolf hunting. Here’s how they voted. (Green = a vote in favor of ban.)

16 people are talking about this

The larger environment bill passed 73-60.

CHANCES OF BECOMING LAW?

The likelihood of the ban becoming law was unclear Tuesday.

The ban is not included in the companion bill that passed the Senate last week, and past attempts to pass a ban in the Senate have failed. Nonetheless, it will now be the subject of negotiations between the two chambers and could be the subject of compromises and horse-trading. The bills vary on numerous issues, ranging from how to regulate deer farms, protection of pollinators, rules regarding pollution, and even how many fishing rods anglers can use.

Gov. Tim Walz, a hunter, doesn’t appear to have publicly stated a position. As of last month, he hadn’t made up his mind, saying only that he wanted a decision to be “thoughtful,” the Minnesota News Network reported. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan’s position wasn’t easily discernible Tuesday, although many suspect that she would support a ban on a wolf hunt, based on her past record as a state lawmaker. She’s also a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe, and American Indian groups have generally been united in opposition to wolf hunting and trapping.A request for clarification on Walz’s and Flanagan’s position from their office wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.

Hunter’s body found in Fertile, Minn. field

FERTILE, Minn. — A body of a man who had been hunting was found in a rural Fertile, Minn., field Tuesday night, a press release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

Timothy Leon Berhow, 66, of Grand Forks, N.D., was found just before 8:30 p.m. in a field where he had been hunting, the release said.

The sheriff’s office transported Berhow’s body to the University of North Dakota forensic medical examiner for an autopsy. The release said no foul play is suspected.

_________________________________________________________________________

At first glance, the headline (above) leads you believe that maybe a hunter will finally serve a purpose, not in life, but as his body decays into the fertile Earth where he died (for whatever reason).

The more cynical of you may be thinking something like, ‘Ugh, get the smelly hunter’s body out of the nice fertile field, so the rotting cascass doesn’t exude toxins in the form of cheap beer, aftershave, fried pork rinds and chewing tobacco.’

Since no foul play is suspected, it’s a shame the sheriff’s office burned the carbon to transport the body to the University of North Dakota for an autopsy.

 

 

Teen shot while duck hunting

 

 

http://www.marshallindependent.com/news/local-news/2018/09/teen-shot-while-duck-hunting/

RUSSELL — A 14-year-old boy sustained gunshot injuries while duck hunting near Russell over the weekend, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reported.

While the Sheriff’s Office did not release information on the boy’s identity or condition, Sheriff Mark Mather said the incident was determined a hunting accident. The Sheriff’s Office received a call at 6:46 a.m. Sunday for a juvenile hunter who was shot by another juvenile hunter, about a mile north of Rock Lake near Russell. The boy was shot in the stomach and hand, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Mather said the victim was in stable condition when officers arrived at the scene. He was flown to Sioux Falls for medical treatment, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Responders at the scene of the accident included the Balaton Ambulance, Russell First Responders and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

COMMENTS

Hunting accident injures man in Yellow Medicine County

http://www.marshallindependent.com/news/news-of-record/2018/04/hunting-accident-injures-man-in-yellow-medicine-county/

YELLOW MEDICINE COUNTY — An 18-year-old man was shot in the ankle in a hunting accident earlier this week, the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office said. The man received non life-threatening injuries, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Redwood County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Office with the accident, which was reported at 10:27 p.m. Monday, at the intersection of 208th Avenue and 630th Street in rural Yellow Medicine County. An 18-year-old man was taken to the Granite Falls hospital and interviewed there, the Sheriff’s Office said.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the man reported he was shot in the right ankle by his friend, who was shooting at a raccoon using a Remington .22 caliber rifle. The victim was transported by ambulance to North Memorial Hospital for surgery.

A news release from the Sheriff’s Office also included some advice from the shooting victim. When asked if he had any additional statements, the victim said, “Remember to use the safety.”

–Deb Gau

Early accidents good reminder for safety, DNR official says

http://www.marshallindependent.com/news/local-news/2017/11/early-accidents-good-reminder-for-safety-dnr-official-says/

MARSHALL — Of the thousands of Minnesota deer hunters who took to the great outdoors for the opening firearms season this past weekend, very few were injured. However, two of those who suffered injuries occurred in southwest Minnesota.

This past Saturday, the North Memorial Ambulance in Marshall responded to a call from the Minneota area regarding a male individual who had fallen out of a tree stand, while the Tracy Ambulance Service responded to a call about a hunter accidentally being shot in Redwood County.

“We had a hunting party shooting and then we also had an accident where somebody fell out of a tree stand,” area conservation officer Matt Loftness said. “That’s two accidents within a couple of hours on opening Saturday morning. It’s a really important reminder for people to be safe.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that tree-stand accidents are the leading cause of injury to hunters, with as many as 1 in 3 people who hunt from an elevated stand suffering a serious injury as a result of a fall at some point in their lifetime.

“Safety is so important,” said Eric Buffington, who works as a sales representative for Borch’s Sporting Goods in Marshall. “People should wear a harness when they’re in a tree stand. There’s times when you doze off and catch yourself, so anytime I step foot into a tree stand, I wear a harness.”

Two weeks ago, avid Minnesota hunter Philip Martinson broke his back after falling out of his deer stand while getting ready for the season opener. According to media reports, Martinson fractured the L1 vertebra in his lower back when he fell, though he still somehow managed to crawl 20 feet to his truck and drive himself home despite the agonizing pain.

Martinson wasn’t paralyzed, but another hunter — 32-year-old Timothy Bowers — wasn’t as fortunate. Paralyzed after falling from his tree stand in November 2013, Bowers, a newlywed and father-to-be from Indiana, chose to take himself off of life support rather than spend the rest of his life connected to a breathing machine, unable to hunt or even walk ever again, according to several media reports. Bowers died later the same evening.

“All the tree stands sold now come with a harness,” Buffington said. “I think it’s the law — or it should be — for hunters to wear a harness when they’re in a tree stand. I wear a harness every time I’m in the tree stand. I also let someone know when I plan to be back.”

For decades, the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) — a nonprofit trade association — has worked to promote better hunter safety through improved tree stand designs and by including a full-body harness with every TMA-certified tree stand they sell. As a result, more than 18.5 million hunter have been provided with a fall restraint system along with their tree stand purchase. The organization also prides itself on educating hunters about the dangers and how to properly use the harness.

The state DNR website offers information regarding safety guidelines, recovery from a fall, the 3 point rule and different types of tree stands in addition to instructions about safety harnesses. There are also links to a hunter safety course and more about TMA stands.

Experts do recommend wearing a harness every single time a person climbs a tree because a lot of things can go wrong from 12-20 feet up — even for the most experienced hunters.

The Minneota man who fell from a tree stand on the opening day of deer season on Saturday received significant injuries.

Manager Dan DeSmet said North Memorial Ambulance was dispatched to the Minneota location early Saturday morning. The individual was transported to Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, but DeSmet was unable to comment further because of privacy laws.

The accidental shooting took place partway between Milroy and Tracy. Investigators say a hunter shooting at a deer hit another hunter beyond the deer. The wounded individual was struck in the leg and was taken to the Sanford Tracy Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Loftness shared that safety needs to be the No. 1 priority when it comes to hunting.

“That’s one of the biggest things we teach in our safety classes,” he said. “You have to know what your target is and beyond. When you’re shooting, you have to make sure you’re clear, whether it’s another deer or a human.”

The injured deer hunter is said to be recovering. Authorities say everyone in the party wore the appropriate blaze orange clothing as required by law. No one was arrested and no charges are pending, they said.

“The accidental shooting this weekend was just into Redwood County,” Loftness said. “Tracy responded to that. Sometimes people don’t realize how crucial the first responders, ambulance crews and law enforcement are. But whether it’s a shot in the side or in the leg, it could be close to arteries so you’re talking about a dangerous situation.”

Loftness, who said he was dealing with phone calls at the time of the shooting, added that Tracy Ambulance was well prepared for the possibility of a hunting accident, though everyone hopes it never really happens.

“They actually trained on that,” he said. “They did training for a mock hunter injury.”

With firearm season continuing into the weekend and beyond, area officials are hoping for safe and successful hunts.

“Hopefully we don’t have any more accidents this weekend,” Loftness said.