Protecting critical habitat for Lynx

The Canada lynx is a specie from the family of Felidae which live in forest and tundra region. The species of cat are rare in the lower 48 states. This is because they choose to reside in northern regions which are colder and forested. Due to their special habitat requirements, lynx can mostly be found in places like Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, Wyoming, and New Hampshire.

Protecting critical habitat

The Lynx gained official protection in the year 2000 under the Endangered Species Act after a petition and litigation were raised by Defenders. Although the official protection was a huge progress, it is not enough for the survival and recovery of the species. The habitats, that suit the natural requirement of the lynx, also has to be protected. While designating a certain location to be inhabited by the lynx, a federal protection by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the habitat will make it safer for the lynx. This is because this protection means that before any federal activity takes place on that property such as building roads, there will be a consideration first on if such activity will have negative impacts on the habitat. In the lynx habitat, many of these activities are threats to its existence.

The point we are at today

Fish and Wildlife Service released a proposal in 2013 to have the lynx critical habitat revised. The Defenders team are still putting work into analyzing the proposal to make sure that changes which will be made will be favorable to the lynx and help the species gain a long-term survival and recovery throughout its range. Also, defenders are watching and observing the remaining areas being occupied by the lynx to ensure that all the factors required by the lynx to survive are not sabotaged by forest activities which are carried out in the areas.

In 2016, Dana Christensen ruled that the 2014 FWS decision to revise the lynx habitat erred when there was no expansion on the original plan which was made 5 years earlier. He requested for an additional critical habitats in the Oregon and Washington state but was denied.

Apart from putting the lynx on the list of Endangered Species, the Fish and Wildlife Services are yet to present a critical habitat protection plan for the species. This plan is important in order for a clearer picture to be provided to the federal agencies and other involved bodies to recover the species.

Also, there are some facts about the lynx which is yet to be known like its habitat requirements, the population status and its response to threats. All these can only be discovered with field research and close monitoring of the animal. A progress made though is that having the lynx listed under the Endangered Species Act has increased interest to research the animal, but is just a small percentage when compared to how much research is carried out on bears and wolves.