U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Canada lynx in position to be delisted

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

DENVER  – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier this week that a scientific review of the Canada lynx in the contiguous United States concludes that the animal may no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and should be considered for delisting due to recovery.

The recommendation is the result of an extensive review of the best available scientific information and almost 20 years of working in partnership with state, federal, tribal, industry and other land managers on the conservation of this species, the FWS said. As a result of this status review, the FWS will begin development of a proposed rule to delist the species.

The Canada lynx was listed as threatened in 2000 largely due to a lack of regulatory mechanisms on federal public lands, which is where a majority of the habitat for Canada lynx was believed to be located in the lower 48 states. Since receiving ESA protection, federal land managers throughout the lynx’s range have formally amended their management plans and implemented conservation measures to conserve the species. For example, all U.S. Forest Service land management plans in the Rocky Mountain region have been amended to include conservation measures for the Canada lynx. In addition, in Maine, private landowners have voluntarily supported working woodland easements that protect nearly 2.5 million acres of forest, benefitting the Canada lynx and other species.

A cousin of the more common bobcat, the Canada lynx is similar in size but can be distinguished by its black-tipped tail, long tufts of black hair at the tips of its ears, and long legs with large, furry paws for hunting snowshoe hares in deep snow. In the contiguous U.S., Canada lynx populations are found in Maine, northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Montana, northeastern Idaho, north-central Washington and western Colorado.

Given the outcome of this analysis, the FWS said it will not complete a recovery plan for the Canada lynx, adding that the recent recommendation does not remove or negate the Endangered Species Act protections currently in place for the Canada lynx. To delist a species, the FWS must follow a process similar to what is used in considering whether to list species. The next step is for the FWS to publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register, receive public comments, review and analyze those comments, conduct a peer review, and then announce a final decision.

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