The Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont.–Wildlife officials in the United States earlier this month declared Canada lynx recovered and said the snow-loving wild cats no longer need special protections following steps to preserve their habitat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will begin drafting a rule to revoke the lynx’s threatened listing across the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act.
But wildlife advocates said they would challenge the move in court.
First imposed in 2000, the threatened designation has interrupted numerous logging and road-building projects on federal lands, frustrating industry groups and western lawmakers.
Some scientists and wildlife advocates have warned climate change could reduce lynx habitat and the availability of its primary food source: snowshoe hares.
The decision came after government biologists shortened their time span for considering climate change threats, from 2100 to 2050, because of what they said were uncertainties in long-term climate models.
An assessment by government biologists based on that shorter time span concluded lynx populations remain resilient–and even have increased versus historical levels in parts of Colorado and Maine.
Canada lynx are about the size bobcats but with huge paws to help them navigate deep snow.
The animals also are found in Montana, Minnesota, Idaho, and Washington state.
There’s no reliable estimate of their population, leaving officials to rely on information about habitat and hare populations to gauge the species’ status.
“Based on what we know, we think the habitat has improved, protections around the habitat have improved, and therefore lynx populations have improved,” said Jodi Bush of U.S. Fish and Wildlife.