May 22, 1997
Pacific Northwest Region: David Klinger 503-231-6121
Mountain-Prairie Region: Sharon Rose 303-236-7917 ext 415
Great Lakes Region: Larry Dean 612-725-3602
Northeast Region: Diana Weaver 413-253-8329
A review of scientific information
suggests that the Canada lynx warrants protection under the Endangered
Species Act, but it will not be proposed for listing at this time
because other species are in more critical need, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service said today. As with any "warranted
but precluded" finding, the Service will reexamine its finding
in 12 months.
"There's no doubt that the number
of Canada lynx, the only lynx in North America, has decreased
significantly in the lower 48 states," Ralph Morgenweck,
Director of the Service's Mountain-Prairie Region, said. "Unfortunately,
our resources are limited and other species are in worse condition
and require more immediate action on our part," he added.
The Service's announcement came in
response to a lawsuit that challenged a 1994 decision that the
lynx did not warrant listing. In making today's decision, Service
biologists reexamined the information in the 1994 administrative
record and new information available since the 1994 finding and
consulted experts on the Canada lynx. Review of these data show
that habitat loss and modification, past harvest, inadequate regulatory
mechanisms to restore lynx and their habitat and increased human
access to suitable forest, are threatening the species.
To determine how to prioritize species
known to be experiencing declines in their numbers and habitat,
the Service employs a priority system based on magnitude of threat,
imminence of threat to the species and biological uniqueness of
During this most recent review of
information, the Service determined the Canada lynx in the contiguous
United States to be a "distinct population segment,"
because its population is delineated by an international political
boundary that coincides with differences in status and management.
In addition, it is important to conserve the population of lynx
in the lower 48 states because its loss would leave a significant
gap in the range of a species.
Canada lynx have been observed in
22 of the contiguous United States. The evidence of historical
and present lynx occurrence in six of those states is limited
and suggests that lynx were never abundant or consistently represented
in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio or Virginia.
The Service believes that historical lynx observations, trapping
records and other documented evidence in Maine, New Hampshire,
Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin,
Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and
Colorado confirm lynx as a resident species in those 16 states.
At present, however, the Service is only able to confirm the
presence of Canada lynx in Montana, Washington, Wyoming and Maine.
The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)
has large well-furred paws for hunting in deep snow at high
elevations; long tufts on the ears and a flared facial ruff, and
a short, black-tipped tail. Males average 22 pounds and about
34 inches in length with females being slightly smaller.
On January 30, 1996, the Defenders
of Wildlife and 14 other plaintiffs filed suit to challenge the
Service's 1994 finding that the lynx did not warrant listing.
U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler subsequently issued
an opinion and order that set aside the finding and remanded the
decision back to the Service for reconsideration. In addition,
the order imposed a 60-day deadline for the Service to publish
its finding in the Federal Register no later than May 27, 1997.
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