Court asked to speed up Canada lynx recovery work

2014-06-24T11:00:00Z 2014-09-11T11:57:19Z Court asked to speed up Canada lynx recovery workThe Associated Press The Associated Press
June 24, 2014 11:00 am  • 

BILLINGS — Wildlife advocates want a federal judge to order faster action on a recovery plan for imperiled Canada lynx, after wildlife officials said it could take until 2018 to finish the long-delayed work.

The U.S. government declared the snow-loving big cats a threatened species across the Lower 48 states in 2000. But officials haven't come up with a mandated recovery plan, citing budget limitations and competing concerns from other troubled species.

After a federal judge in Montana criticized the long delay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered to complete the work by early 2018.

A coalition of wildlife advocacy groups says that's not soon enough. They're asking U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to order the work done by late 2016.

Lynx dwell in the forest, where they're rarely seen, and there's no reliable estimate of their population. They range across parts of 14 states in the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and the Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon.

Lynx are about the size of a bobcat, with large paws that help the predator stay on top of the deep snow typical through its range. Those paws also make it easier to capture its primary prey, snowshoe hares.

Threats to its survival vary across its range and include timber harvesting, development and other factors.

The government has designated large areas in the West as critical habitat for lynx in recent years. A pending proposal would expand that designation to about 28,000 square miles of public land, primarily in northern Montana and the region surrounding Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park.

But an attorney for the wildlife advocates said the designations amount to a "paper exercise" in the absence of a recovery plan's detailed road map for protecting lynx.

"I haven't seen any statement from any agency that lynx are improving," said attorney Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center. "If anything we're seeing a lot of industrial logging projects even in lynx critical habitat."

Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Regional Director Michael Thabault said Tuesday that the government's recovery plan schedule was reasonable. He cited limited agency resources and the complexity of addressing a species with such a broad range.

Officials also say that lynx face a relatively low degree of threat compared to other protected species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service was forced to come up with a timeline on the recovery document when Molloy last month expressed frustration with the government's progress. The judge said the "stutter-step" approach by federal officials necessitated court intervention.

The lawsuit pending before Molloy was brought by Friends of the Wild Swan, Rocky Mountain Wild, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and the San Juan Citizens Alliance. They have argued that the government should be pushing ahead on the habitat and recovery issues simultaneously to keep the lynx from edging closer to extinction.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. RPT
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    RPT - June 24, 2014 7:29 pm
    Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
    Year Published: 2008
    Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
    Assessor(s): Nowell, K.
    Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
    Listed as Least Concern because the Canada lynx is widespread and abundant over most of its range, where it is legally harvested for the international fur trade for hundreds of years, and recent decades of managed harvests do not appear to have caused any significant decline or range loss (Mowat et al. 2000). In the southern part of its range, it is considered Endangered in New Brunswick, Canada, and of "Special Concern" in Nova Scotia (Parker 2001). In the contiguous US, it is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act and critical habitat is being designated for conservation management (US FWS 2008).
    2002 – Least Concern

  2. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - June 24, 2014 7:21 pm
    Gadfly: yawn....zzzzzz.
  3. RPT
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    RPT - June 24, 2014 7:00 pm
    The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has donated $25,000 to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for wolf management.... May 29,2014

    The Missoula-based nonprofit group has awarded more than $240,000 in wolf management grants in the past two years
  4. Leadfoot
    Report Abuse
    Leadfoot - June 24, 2014 5:10 pm
    This was predictable. FWP has pushed protection of wolves until their numbers affected enough ranchers & farmers & subdivision private pets. They have spent 10's of millions if not a billion dollars over the last 15-20 years. Now, public opinion is that enough is enough. Now time to move on and waste millions in protecting the Lynx & the Mountain Lion that is threatened by the now markedly increased numbers of the wide ranging wolves. Work on how to protect the Lynx could have been done by one or two pencil pushers/weekend warriors so that a plan would already be ready to implement. This problem with the Lynx did not start just now & was predictable because of range commonality. The problem with domestic sheep ranging on Big Horn winter feeding grounds in our "protective" Missoula Green Belt has been recognized by many in East Missoula who watch the surrounding range with spotting scopes. But no! FWP must range domestic sheep to fight Nap Weed, of greater importance than protecting our Big Horns. 3 rams were dispatched in the last month. Now, the Lynx and the Mountain Lion. We can all see where this is going & each path involves years of huge amounts of money wastage until a solution is palpated through their murky darkness of not a clue. The wildlife & those that pay the taxes that pay the wages of FWP deserve better. Where is the accountability?
  5. RPT
    Report Abuse
    RPT - June 24, 2014 4:11 pm
    The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has donated $25,000 to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for wolf management.... May 29,2014

    The Missoula-based nonprofit group has awarded more than $240,000 in wolf management grants in the past two years
  6. RPT
    Report Abuse
    RPT - June 24, 2014 4:03 pm
    More lies Gadfly??... You must HATE the fact that every statement you make up can be disputed with a quick Google search...

    September 08, 2012 8:11 am • By ROB CHANEY Missoulian


    MISSOULA — Over the past decade, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has contributed $400,000 to study wolves.

    In addition to this spring’s $51,000 donation to U.S. Wildlife Services for radio collars and depredation kills in Montana, the foundation contributed $41,600 to study elk calf mortality in the Bitterroot Valley in 2012. The Missoula-based organization has underwritten a wolf predation study in Idaho’s Clearwater River Basin in 2007, elk calf recruitment measurements in Idaho’s wolf-reintroduction areas in 2003, predator-prey relationships in Wisconsin in 2003, and the impact of grizzly bears and wolves on elk in Wyoming in 1999....

  7. Gadfly
    Report Abuse
    Gadfly - June 24, 2014 3:03 pm
    Laws are in place, ESA, that demand action regarding the lynx. The RMEF is donating money not for conservation for wolves but for persecution of wolves, not for conservation ecology but for game farming. USFWS is dragging heels.
  8. RPT
    Report Abuse
    RPT - June 24, 2014 12:20 pm
    I didn’t happen to notice the amount of money these ‘wildlife advocates’ were raising or donating to help pay for this study?.. Anyone got that figure?
    The R.M.E.F. is always in the front row and first to donate when it comes to a study on the wolves , etc,etc.... Why is it we NEVER hear about these other groups helping with the cost of our wildlife studies ??? And yet they are ALWAYS the first to DEMAND action or file a lawsuit.
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