Lynx Left in Limbo

On September 11, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) revised its critical habitat designation for threatened Canada lynx, as well as its definition of the animal’s distinct population segment (DPS) protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The move was considered a mixed bag by conservationists.

Canada lynx were first listed as threatened under the ESA in 2000, but the DPS was limited to a few states—meaning lynx outside those states were not protected. The revised DPS now extends ESA coverage to the contiguous United States.

Unfortunately, the Service still scrimped on critical habitat, once again declining to include important areas in the Southern Rockies, parts of New England, and elsewhere. Despite the new coast-to-coast DPS, providing a prohibition on intentional hunting and trapping takes, lynx are still subject to “incidental” trapping takes. Furthermore, outside critical habitats, there will be less stringent reviews of human activities that could damage the dense forests lynx depend on.

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