U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Region 6

The Mountain-Prairie Region



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 the species.

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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