Avoid trapping lynx

Lynx management zone regulations

Map showing Minnesota's lynx managment zoneThe DNR takes its role in protecting, managing and recovering endangered and threatened species very seriously.

As part of a federal court consent decree to help minimize the risk of accidental take of federally threatened Canada lynx in Minnesota, the DNR is implementing rule changes that include some additional limits on the type of snares that can be used and the way snares can be set in northeastern Minnesota.

Existing lynx management zone regulations remain in place.

All regulations listed on this web page apply only to that part of Minnesota lying east and north of U.S. Highway 53 (see map at right) and will be effective for the 2023-2024 trapping season.

New restrictions
  1. Snares, except when placed as water sets, must be equipped with:
    1. A minimum loop stop that prevents the snare loop from closing to a diameter less than 3¼ inches.
    2. A one-piece snare lock that contains no moving parts (e.g., cam locks are not allowed), has no integrated or attached compression springs, and has a side that contacts the animal that is a minimum of ½ inch in width.
  2. Snares, except when placed as water sets, may not be attached or anchored to a fence or tree and may not be set in a location such that they, when fully extended, can reach any part of a fence, or any rooted vegetation greater than ½ inch in diameter. Trappers may still cut existing rooted vegetation greater than ½ inch off near the ground and push it back slightly in to the ground or snow to be used as camouflage or a snare guide.
  3. Snares may not exceed 7 feet in length from the anchor point to the end of the snare when fully extended, except when:
    1. Placed as water sets.
    2. Used by a licensed wolf trapper as a "wolf snare", which is defined as:
      • Having a maximum loop diameter greater than ten inches, but less than or equal to 18 inches;
      • Having a cable diameter of at least 7/64 inches
      • Includes stops affixed to the cable to ensure that the portion of the snare that makes up the noose loop may not be less than three inches in diameter when fully closed;
      • Includes a breakaway device that would cause the snare loop to break when pulled by a moose; and
      • Includes a diverter wire that extends 27 inches in both directions, measured perpendicular to and from the top of the snare loop. The diverter wires must be positioned at an angle no more than 20 degrees from the horizontal plane of the top of the snare, and the snare must be set within 20 yards of bait.
  4. Snares, except when placed as water sets, must be equipped with at least one swivel. This could be an "end swivel" or an "in-line swivel".
  5. A person may not set, place or operate any foothold trap that has a maximum jaw opening, when set, of greater than 6½ inches measured from the inside edges of the jaw, except when:
    1. Placed as a water set.
    2. Used by licensed wolf trappers during a wolf season.
Existing regulations
  • All snare cable or wire must be at least 5⁄64 inch in diameter when set on land.
  • Snare loops must be at least 8 inches in diameter and may not exceed 10 inches in diameter when set on land.
  • All foothold traps, except those set as water sets, must be staked or otherwise secured by tethering chains or cables not more than 18 inches long with at least two swivel points.
  • All traps and snares must be secured in a manner that prevents captured animals from removing the trap from the trap site (no drags allowed).
  • Fresh meat, hare or rabbit (or parts of hare or rabbit) may not be used as bait. Other meat may be used as bait if it has been unfrozen and exposed to air for at least 24 hours.
  • No suspended flagging or other sight attractant may be used within 20 feet of the trap or snare.
  • Illustration showing a cubby in which some traps must be placed

    Cubby box traps

    For illustration purposes only. Cubby boxes may be constructed of any material and openings may be restricted with wire mesh, wood strips or other material. Openings may not exceed 50 square inches

    Any incidentally caught lynx should be immediately released, if possible. Any trapper who incidentally takes a lynx is required to notify their local conservation officer as soon as possible or within 24 hours. Persons who know about the take of a lynx can report it by calling 800-652-9093.
  • Body-gripping traps that have a maximum jaw opening, when set, of greater than 5 inches and less than 7½ inches measured from the inside edges of the jaws (generally 160 and 220 sizes), except those set as water sets, must be set in one of two ways:
    1. In a tree of any diameter or on a pole no larger than 6 inches in diameter at least 3 feet off the ground or surface of the snow.
    2. If used on the ground, they must be set in a cubby box with the trap inserted a minimum of 7 inches from the front, with the cubby opening no more than 50 square inches in area as illustrated.
Releasing incidentally trapped lynx
For complete instructions, download our lynx release guide.
A catch pole that trapper's use

A trapper's catchpole

All trappers need to carry a catchpole to reduce mortality and injuries when releasing any unintended animal captured. Care should be taken to approach any trapped animals slowly to avoid their excessive movement.

A trapped lynx will allow the catchpole loop to be placed over its head but it can be expected to react when the loop is tightened.

Tighten the catchpole loop only sufficiently to hold the lynx securely without preventing its ability to breathe. It is important to keep the head of the lynx pinned to the ground so that the front end of the body is restrained. Once the head is down, quickly place a foot, with light pressure only, on the hindquarters to restrain the rear legs.

A heavy canvas is also useful to protect the trapper from the cat’s claws. Once the lynx is immobilized, the canvas can be placed over the prone animal to quiet it.

Remove the trap quickly and release the catchpole loop so the lynx can escape.

If a catchpole is not available, an alternative method to release lynx is to cut a strong forked stick to allow the pinning of the lynx’s neck and shoulder to the ground while the trap is removed.

Never attempt to render a trapped lynx unconscious with a blow to the nose or head or by any other means. Life threatening injury to the lynx may result.

Care should be taken at all times when releasing a lynx because they are capable of injuring the trapper with their teeth or claws. Always be aware a trapped lynx may try to kick at you with claws extended on any foot.

Wearing thick gloves to release trapped animals is always wise.

If you need help releasing a lynx from a trap, please contact your local conservation officer or the DNR information center.

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