The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long tradition of scientific excellence and always uses the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat for the benefit of the American public.
Created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, today's National Wildlife Refuge System protects habitats and wildlife across the country, from the Alaskan tundra to subtropical wetlands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System's 560-plus refuges cover more than 150 million acres and protect nearly 1,400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
While national wildlife refuges were created to protect wildlife, they are for people too. Refuges are ideal places for people of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world. We invite you to learn more about and visit the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Mountain-Prairie Region's Office of Ecological Services (ES) works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, ES personnel work with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to avoid, minimize, and mitigate threats to our Nation's natural resources.
Providing leadership in the conservation of migratory bird habitat through partnerships, grants, and outreach for present and future generations. The Migratory Bird Program is responsible for maintaining healthy migratory bird populations for the benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region helps conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic resources and provides economically valuable recreational fishing to anglers across the country. The program comprises 12 National Fish Hatcheries.
Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.
External Affairs staff in the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides support to the regional office and field stations to communicate and facilitate information about the Service's programs to the public, media, Congress, Tribes, partners, and other stakeholders in the 8-state region.
The Canada lynx is a mid-sized boreal forest carnivore that occurs across most of
northern North America. At 75-90 centimeters (30-35 inches) long, weighing 6-14 kilograms (about 15-30 pounds),
and with grizzled gray fur, lynx are similar to bobcats (Lynx rufus) in size and appearance. The lynx’s
exceptionally large paws, long, black ear tufts, and short, black-tipped tail distinguish it from the more common
bobcat. With its large feet and long hind legs, the lynx is highly adapted to hunting its primary prey, the
snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), in deep, powdery snow."
Lynx and snowshoe hares are strongly associated with moist, cool, boreal spruce-fir
forests. Landscapes with high snowshoe hare densities are optimal for lynx survival and reproduction, and
research suggests that hare densities consistently at or above 0.5 hares per hectare (0.2 hares/acre) are needed
to support persistent lynx populations. Hares are most abundant in young regenerating or mature multi-storied
forests with dense understory vegetation that provides food and cover. In the northern contiguous U.S. (i.e., the
Lower 48 States), boreal forests become naturally patchy and marginal for lynx as they transition to temperate
forest types that support lower hare densities. Such forests cannot support lynx populations, even though
snowshoe hares may still be present. Snow also influences lynx distribution, and populations typically occur
where continuous snow cover lasts four months or longer. Such areas are believed to provide lynx with a seasonal
competitive advantage over other terrestrial hare predators like bobcats and coyotes (Canis latrans).
Lynx are broadly distributed across most of Canada and Alaska, which combined
encompass about 98% of the species breeding range. The contiguous U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) accounts
for the other 2% and includes resident breeding populations in northern Maine, northeastern Minnesota,
northwestern Montana/northern Idaho, and north-central Washington. An introduced population also occurs in
western Colorado, and several other areas may have historically supported small resident populations (e.g.,
northern New Hampshire, Isle Royale, Michigan, northeastern Washington, and the Greater Yellowstone area of
southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming). Lynx also have occurred temporarily in many other states,
typically during irruptions (mass dispersal events) from Canada when northern hare populations underwent dramatic
cyclic declines roughly every 10 years.
The Contiguous U.S. DPS of lynx was listed at threatened in 2000 because regulations on
some Federal lands at that time were inadequate to ensure the conservation of lynx populations and habitats.
On January 11, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the completion of
a scientific review of the Canada lynx in the contiguous United States. The review concludes that the Canada
lynx may no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and should be considered for
delisting due to recovery. This recommendation is the result of an extensive review of the best available
scientific information and almost 20 years of working in partnership with state, federal, tribal, industry and
other land managers on the conservation of this species. As a result of this status review, the Service will
begin development of a proposed rule to delist the species.
January 2018: Final Species Status Assessment (SSA) Report Released
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the availability of the final SSA report for the
Contiguous U.S. Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx. The SSA compiles the best available
scientific information regarding the historical, current, and potential future conditions for lynx in the lower
48 states. It evaluates the DPS's viability considering climate change, forest management and related
regulations, wildland fire management, and other potential sources of habitat loss and fragmentation. The
report incorporates the formally-elicited opinions of recognized lynx experts from throughout the DPS range
regarding the current and future status of, potential threats to, and likely viability of resident lynx
populations in the DPS.
October 2015: Canada Lynx Expert Elicitation Workshop
The purpose of this report is to convey the results of an expert workshop convened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in October 2015 to improve our understanding of the status of the contiguous U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). This workshop was held in conjunction with a species status
assessment (SSA) for the DPS.
The workshop was organized by a Lynx SSA Team consisting of Service and USGS staff who have developed and
piloted implementation of the SSA framework, and Service biologists who are working on lynx throughout the
range of the DPS. In the interest of collaboration and transparency, this team partnered with State
agencies, other Federal agencies, and academic researchers to elicit expert input regarding the current and
likely future status of lynx populations within the DPS.
In response to a June 2014 Court Order to complete a recovery plan for lynx by January of 2018, or make a
determination that a recovery plan is not necessary, the Service completed a Species Status Assessment (SSA)
for the lynx DPS (see above). The SSA provides the scientific underpinnings for the Service's
recently-completed 5-year review (see below), which determined that the DPS may no longer meet the ESA's
definition of a threatened species and recommends, therefore, that the DPS be considered for delisting due to
recovery. Based on the 5-year review, the Service determined, in accordance with section 4(f)(1) of the ESA,
that a recovery plan is not necessary at this time.
January 11, 2018: 5-Year Review Indicates Canada Lynx Recovery in the Lower 48 States
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the completion of a scientific review of the Canada
lynx in the contiguous United States. The review concludes that the Canada lynx may no longer warrant
protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and should be considered for delisting due to recovery. This
recommendation is the result of an extensive review of the best available scientific information and almost 20
years of working in partnership with State, Federal, Tribal, industry and other land managers on the
conservation of this species. As a result of this status review, the Service will begin development of a
proposed rule to delist the species.
September 12, 2014: The Service revised Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the
contiguous United States distinct population segment (DPS) of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). The Service
finalized both a revised critical habitat designation for the lynx DPS and a revised definition for what
constitutes the range of the DPS – the portion of the species’ North American range in which lynx are
protected by the Act.
September 25, 2013: The Service announced a proposal to revise the critical habitat designation for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx. The Service previously listed
the lynx as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Act)in 2000 and designated critical habitat for the
species in 2006, which was revised in 2009. This current revision was undertaken to address two court orders
resulting from litigation over the 2009 critical habitat designation. The Service also proposes to revise the
definition of the lynx DPS to ensure that all lynx in the contiguous United States are protected under the
Act. The Service is accepting public comment on this action until December 26, 2013. More information can be
found at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket
February 24, 2009: The Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final revised critical habitat
designation for the Canada lynx in the contiguous United States. Approximately 39,000 square miles of critical
habitat were designated in five units in the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and
February 28, 2008: The Service proposed to designate approximately 42,753 square miles
of habitat in portions of northern Maine, northeastern Minnesota, the Northern Rocky Mountains (northwestern
Montana and northeastern Idaho), the Northern Cascades (north-central Washington), and the Greater
Yellowstone Area (southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming).
The Service announced publication of a Notice of Availability of the Draft Economic Analysis and Draft Environmental Assessment.
In addition, the Service provided maps representing potential changes that may be incorporated into the final critical habitat designation for Canada lynx. The potential changes to the map boundaries are the result of new information provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the public comment period, February 28, 2008 to April 28, 2008, and during our consideration of comments submitted. Potential map changes reflect new information about lynx habitat condition and distribution. Changes also reflect areas that the
U.S. Forest Service has identified as being important for lynx during their planning process.
The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed revising the amount of critical habitat designated for the Canada lynx. In total, the Service proposed to designate approximately 42,753 square miles of habitat in portions of northern Maine, northeastern Minnesota, the Northern Rocky Mountains (northwestern Montana and northeastern Idaho), the Northern Cascades (north-central Washington), and the Greater Yellowstone Area
(southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming). The public was invited to comment on all aspects of the
On March 24, 2000, the contiguous United States population of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) was
listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In 2003, in response to a court-order to reconsider the
listing, the Service clarified its final listing decision.
December 2008: Service to Conduct Status Review on the Need to Revise the 2000 Canada Lynx Listing to Include New Mexico
Following an initial review of a petition to revise the listing of Canada lynx to include the mountains of
north-central New Mexico, the Fish and Wildlife Service will undertake a review to determine if animals in New
Mexico – believed to be dispersers from the State of Colorado reintroduction efforts - should be protected
under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is seeking information regarding the status and distribution of
the Canada lynx, including impacts or potential impacts to the species resulting from either human activities
or natural causes. Public comments will be accepted until February 17, 2008. For more information, please see
the Federal Register Notice.
December 2009: The Service announced on December 17, 2009, that changing the boundaries of the Endangered Species Act listing for the Canada lynx to include the State of New Mexico is warranted; however, the action is precluded at this time by the need to complete other listing actions of a higher priority.