Animal rights groups have filed suit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources claiming that since Minnesota holds a population of Canada lynx, a species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), all trapping should be stopped in order to prevent incidental catch of lynx.
This is a backdoor attempt by animal rights groups to not only ban trapping in Minnesota, but to establish legal precedent to ban a wide range of taking of wildlife,” said Rick Story, senior vice president for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) which manages the U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund (SLDF). “This lawsuit is less about Canada lynx and more about the animal rights groups’ desire to end all animal use, including trapping…”
“This case could set a precedent that affects how the ESA can be applied throughout the nation,” said Story. “If trapping can be stopped to avoid catching a lynx in Minnesota, then what’s next? Banning all fishing in the Mississippi River, Great Lakes or any other body of water which holds endangered sturgeon?”
Okay, we’ve heard this all before…but do most sportsmen really care? Well, maybe deep down they do, but certainly most sportsmen don’t show it on the surface. Here in Minnesota there are usually around 7,000 licensed trappers in the state that, indeed, could be personally effected by this suit. Yet, I’d venture to say that most sportsmen here really don’t feel threatened in any way when they read this—unless, of course, if you actually set a trap-line in the Gopher State.
The problem is eventually these anti groups are going to lob one of these “scud missile” type lawsuits and it will hit the target squarely on and have impact. I equate what the anti’s do to terrorists. Look at it this way…they can attempt a hundred times to cause damage on our way of life and not succeed…but all it takes is just one success and suddenly our way of life can be permanently changed. It’s easy not to think about it until the damage is already done…and often times then it is too late to reverse the impact.
All it takes is a rogue court to listen to one of these frivolous suits by the anti’s and they CAN succeed. As sportsmen, we have so much to lose and the anti’s have nothing but victories to gain.
As for me, I’m going to be watching this lawsuit carefully to see if it goes anywhere. Chances are good…it won’t. Nevertheless, it’s important for sportsmen to be aware of these legal encounters even when it does not personally effect them. Across the country there are battle-lines like this one being drawn that could effect our way of life. It’s important that even if the action doesn’t personally effect the manner in which we enjoy the outdoors…we must stay informed and be prepared to act, if necessary.
© 2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.