Service Announces Draft Economic Analysis, Draft Environmental Assessment for Revised Canada Lynx Critical Habitat
For Immediate Release
June 19, 2014
Service Also Reopens Comment Period on Sept.26, 2013 Proposed Revised Designation of Critical Habitat; Comment Period Open Until July 21, 2014
LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of a Draft Economic Analysis (DEA) and a draft environmental assessment for the proposed revised designation of critical habitat for the Contiguous U.S. Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Comments on an amended required determinations section of the proposal may also be made during this comment period.
The Service is also reopening the comment period on the September 26, 2013 proposed revised designation of critical habitat for the lynx DPS to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment simultaneously on the revised proposed rule, the associated DEA, the draft environmental assessment, and the amended required determinations section. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.
The proposal includes the revised boundary of the lynx DPS, which would ensure that all lynx in the contiguous United States are protected under the ESA. It identifies areas proposed for critical habitat based on where the best science indicates the habitat could support lynx populations over time. The Service determined that areas occupied by lynx populations currently and at the time lynx were listed under the ESA are sufficient to conserve the DPS; therefore, the proposed designation does not include areas not currently occupied by lynx populations.
“Lynx are such mobile and far-ranging predators that they frequently traverse great distances and inhospitable habitats in search of prey. Determining where protections are essential is critical to the effective long-term conservation of this charismatic cat,” said Michael Thabault, Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services in the Mountain-Prairie Region.
The lynx was protected under the ESA in 2000, when it was listed as threatened throughout its range in the contiguous United States, due to the inadequacy, at that time, of existing regulatory mechanisms. The Service designated critical habitat for the species in 2006 and revised the designation in 2009 to include habitat in six northern states. The current proposal includes most of the areas designated in 2009, as well as additional private timber lands in northern Maine, and Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service lands in northwestern Wyoming.