News and Updates
Service Revises Critical Habitat Designation for Canada Lynx Under the Endangered Species Act
September 11, 2014
After more than a year of public input and scientific analysis, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has revised Endangered Species Act protections for the Canada lynx. The Service has finalized both a revised critical habitat designation for the species and a revised definition for what constitutes the contiguous U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) – the portion of the species’ North American range that is protected by the Act.
The revised designation includes about 10,123 square miles of mostly private lands in northern Maine in portions of Aroostook, Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Somerset Counties. Timber harvest and management are the dominant land uses within this area. Tribal lands—96 square miles—and lands covered by the Maine Healthy Forest Reserve Program—943 square miles—have been excluded from the final designation in accordance with section 4(b)(2) of the ESA.
In revising the critical habitat designation, Service biologists used the best available science to determine which habitats contain the features needed to support lynx populations and which are essential to the conservation of lynx in the contiguous United States.
Critical habitat is a term in the ESA that identifies geographic areas containing features essential to the conservation of a listed species and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge or preserve. A critical habitat designation does not impose restrictions on non-federal lands unless federal funds, permits or activities are involved.
Questions and answers
Agencies release revised plan, assessment for protecting Canada lynx affected by Maine trapping program
Maine to manage at least 4,785 acres for Canada lynx
August 5, 2014
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is one step closer to making a decision on permitting Maine's state-regulated trapping programs for effects to the federally protected Canada lynx. The Service has released revised versions of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's incidental take plan and a corresponding draft environmental assessment of the plan for public review and comment through September 5, 2014.
The agencies previously released draft versions of these documents for public comment in November 2011, followed by three highly attended public information sessions. The Service received about 285 unique letters, 129 comment cards from public information sessions and 6,100 form letters commenting on issues from outreach and monitoring measures to lynx handling procedures and enforcement.
News release (PDF and web)
Proposal would help southern Maine landowners conserve rare rabbit
June 30, 2014
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have drafted a 50-year agreement to restore New England cottontail habitat on private and state-owned lands in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Waldo and York counties in Maine. Under the proposed agreement, MDIFW would work with interested landowners to restore and manage up to 12,000 acres of young forest habitat.
The agreement, called a candidate conservation agreement with assurances, helps landowners voluntarily manage lands for rare species by assuring they will not be subjected to additional land use restrictions if the species is protected under the Endangered Species Act in the future. The New England cottontail has been a candidate for protection under the federal ESA since 2006 and is listed as endangered by the state of Maine. The draft agreement and associated documents are available for review and comment at http://www.fws.gov/newengland/.
Questions and answers (PDF)
More on the New England cottontail