Federal Judge in Minnesota Directs Agency to Cease Unauthorized Incidental Take of the Canada Lynx
Animal Protection Institute and Center For Biological Diversity vs. Mark Holsten, Civil No. 06-3776 (MJD/RLE) (D. Minnesota, March 28, 2008).
Plaintiffs allege that Holsten, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, violated the Endangered Species Act Section 9, 16 U.S.C. § 1538, by authorizing and allowing trapping and snaring activities that "take" Canada Lynx. Specifically, DNR regulates the trapping of species, but failed to include FWS recommendations such as those published by FWS in its 2003 flyer, “How to Avoid Incidental Take of Lynx While Trapping or Hunting Bobcats and other Furbearers,” and DNR did not have an incidental take permit for its activities.
The Court rejected DNR’s argument that it was not the proximate cause of harm to Lynx, relying on caselaw including Strahan v. Coxe, 127 F.3d 155,163 (1st Cir.1997) cert. denied,525 U.S. 830 (1998), in which Massachusetts was licensing fishing that impacted the Northern Right Whale. The court found that "a governmental third party pursuant to whose authority an actor directly exacts a taking of an endangered species may be deemed to have violated the provisions of the ESA." The Court also rejected arguments relating to mootness, ESA Section 6, and the Tenth Amendment.
Ultimately, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief, stating: "The DNR shall promptly take all action necessary to insure no further taking of threatened Canada Lynx by trapping or snaring activities within the core Canada Lynx ranges, including, but not limited to: applying for an incidental take permit for Canada Lynx on or before April 30, 2008... to restrict, modify or eliminate the use the incidental taking of Canada Lynx through trapping activities in the core Canada Lynx ranges."
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources webpage on Canada Lynx.
- Local news coverage of the court opinion in the Star-Tribune
Photo of Canada Lynx by Erwin Bauer, FWS, available from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources