Friday, September 09, 2016

Federal Court Sides with Lynx

The endangered Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis) got some first aid from a Montana federal court on Wednesday.  The court ruled that the US Fish & Wildlife failed to analyze whether several areas in northern forests qualified as critical habitat for the lynx's survival in the lower 48.  This ruling was handed down despite the lynx's designation as endangered sixteen years ago (March 24, 2000), but the agency did not designate enough habitat for the animal's protection and full recovery.  The exact number of lynx remaining in the Northern Rockies is not known, but biologists believe their numbers are declining because of habitat fragmentation and the impact of global warming on its almost exclusive prey, the snowshoe hare.  This suit was brought in November 2014 by the Wild Rockies Alliance and is the second court victory that group has gained in support of the lynx.  A federal judge ordered the agency to reconsider its lack of habitat designation for the endangered feline in 2010, but the agency came back with new rationales for excluding the same areas it declined to designate at first. {09.03.09}

That the lynx can be re-established in its forest home if given the opportunity has been proven in Colorado.  The feline became extinct in that state in the 1970s.  But after intensive conservation efforts lasting ten years, self-sustaining populations have been reestablished in the San Juans, and lynx have been seen as far north as Summit County.  Spain and Portugal have also had success breeding and releasing Iberian lynx into remaining woodland habitat.