Judge Rules Lynx Must Be Protected

In a precedent-setting decision, the U.S. District Court for Minnesota found the state to be in violation of the Endangered Species Act for authorizing trapping and snaring within the range of the Canada lynx. The case, brought forth by the Animal Protection Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity, demonstrated that trappers injured or killed at least 13 of these animals between 2002 and 2005.

AWI Wildlife Consultant Camilla Fox served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs. She showed in her report that lynx suffered injuries and/or death in all trap types, including leghold traps, neck snares and Conibear kill-traps, and that lynx kittens were sometimes orphaned as a result of their mothers being trapped.

"Given the fact that 13 takings have been reported since 2002, and that the DNR has not taken substantial steps to further protect lynx from takings, the court finds it likely that additional takings may occur unless further regulations are implemented," U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis wrote in a 20-page order requiring the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to "promptly take all action necessary to [ensure] no further taking of threatened Canada lynx."


Navy's Defeat is a Win for Whales and Dolphins

In May 2007, AWI and four other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the US Navy over its plan to undertake 12 undersea warfare exercises using mid-frequency active (MFA) sonar in Hawaiian waters. The suit sought to require the Navy to adhere to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service as regulatory authority to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

The Navy offered to partially rectify the cause of two of the charges by allowing for public comment on its exercises under NEPA and consulting with the local state planning authorities as part of the CZMA requirements. After the suit was filed, the Navy also reduced the number of its exercises to one in November 2007, conducted with restrictions, and gave notification of another planned for March 2008.

After several preliminary hearings, our case for injunctive relief over the March exercise was heard by Federal Judge David A. Ezra on February 11, and a final order granting our motion for preliminary injunctive relief in part was issued on February 29. In the order, the judge allowed the Navy to conduct the March exercise, but imposed significant restrictions. He said the evidence presented by AWI and fellow co-plaintiffs was both "compelling" and "convincing."

Judge Ezra also stated, "[T]here is little disagreement that MFA sonar can cause injury, death, and behavioral alteration to these animals." Further, he ruled that the Navy's reliance on a noise level of 173 decibels, below which it claims harm to animals from its sonar will not occur, was "arbitrary and capricious."

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