By Peter Passi, Forum News Service
Federal officials are seeking the public’s help in figuring out who was responsible for the death of a Canada lynx — and they’re offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
The carcass of the federally protected cat was recovered March 15 from the ice near the boat ramp on Ely’s Anderson Lake. The specimen was sent to Ashland, Ore., home of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory, the only facility in the world dedicated to crimes against wildlife. Lab analysis there determined the predator cat had been caught in a leg-hold trap.
Two Canada lynx corpses were recovered in St. Louis County this year, and another two were found last year. Canada lynx have been designated a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Even if a lynx were accidentally caught in a trap, the owner of the trap line would be required to report the death, according to Tina Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Midwest division of the USFWS.
“The act of killing a federally protected animal is one thing. The act of concealing it or lying about it is another,” she said.
The same standards apply if someone is involved in an accidental collision with a federally protected animal. Shaw said anyone knowingly involved in the death of such an animal is obligated to report the incident.
Federal authorities are not required to prosecute all deaths of protected animals, but if they do, the penalty for taking a Canada lynx could loom as large as six months imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine.
Even if no prosecution is pursued, authorities monitoring the welfare of a threatened species can glean useful research information by tracking incidents of mortality.
“As with other federally threatened and endangered species in the Midwest, protection of Canada lynx in Minnesota is a priority for us,” explained Pat Lund, USFWS resident agent in charge, in a written statement. “We believe someone may have information about this lynx killing that will help us in our investigation.”
Sometimes Canada lynx are confused with bobcats, which can lawfully be taken. Canada lynx typically weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. They have short black-tipped tails, long legs and large feet that help them in the snow. Their usual quarry includes snowshoe hare, squirrels and other small mammals. Lynx are typically solitary creatures that shy away from human contact.
Lund said lynx occasionally are caught in the traps of those legitimately targeting other species. For information on how to minimize the risk of inadvertently trapping a lynx and what to do if a live animal is found in a trap, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put together a brochure with the help of partners. More information is available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/mammals/lynx/index.html cq
Anyone with information about the lynx found dead on Armstrong Lake or other lynx killings is asked to call Special Agent Ron Kramer at 218-720-5357.