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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

June 17, 1999
Diane Katzenberger (Colorado) 303-236-7917, ext 408
Sharon Rose (Colorado)303-236-7917 ext 415

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Extends Proposal to List Canada Lynx

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon publish in the Federal Register a notice explaining its decision to extend its proposal to list the Canada lynx as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The statutory deadline for making this listing decision had been scheduled to be made on or before July 8 of this year.

The Act allows a six-month extension in making final determinations on listing proposals in situations where there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data. The anticipated release of a U.S. Forest Service science evaluation report on the lynx may provide additional information clarifying previously unanswered questions and disagreements on the biology and threats to the species.

"The Service is aware there is disagreement on various aspects of the species’ status and biology among experts within affected State wildlife agencies and some professional societies," said Ralph Morgenweck, regional director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie region. "The purpose of the extension is to allow additional time to solicit and evaluate additional information that may help to resolve this scientific disagreement."

The U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station has formed a scientific team to review and evaluate various scientific information on lynx. The team consists of experts in the ecology of lynx, forests, showshoe hare (the primary prey of lynx), and wildlife conservation including scientists from the U.S. Forest Service; the Universities of Washington, Montana, and British Columbia; state wildlife agencies; and private research groups and consultants.

The team will prepare a comprehensive compilation and assessment of historic and current lynx occurrence records and distribution, scientific literature, lynx and prey ecology, habitat correlation's, and threats to the continued existence of lynx in the contiguous United States.

The Service has proposed to list the lynx as threatened. The new information may strengthen the biological basis for listing the lynx or lead the Service to withdraw its proposal to list the species.

"The Service intends to make its decision based on the best available scientific and commercial data available," Morgenweck said. "The lynx is a secretive, highly mobile animal that inhabits large territories in remote, inaccessible areas. Because of this, information on this species is limited and difficult to obtain and interpret. We believe the report from this team will offer important biological information on the lynx that the Service should consider in making its final determination."

The Service anticipates receiving a report from the scientific team by the end of July. At that time, the report will be made available to the public and the public comment period reopened for 30 days.

The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), the only lynx in North America, is a secretive forest-dwelling cat of northern latitudes and high mountains. It feeds primarily on small mammals and birds, and is especially dependent on snowshoe hare for prey. It was historically found throughout much of Canada, the forests of northern tier States, and subalpine forests of the central and southern Rockies.

For further information about Canada lynx, please visit the Service's web site at http://www.r6.fws.gov.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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