Lynx, © Alanna Schmidt / National Geographic Stock

Time to Protect Canada Lynx Habitat in the Lower 48!

I would be very surprised if any of you – even those living in northern states — have ever seen a Canada lynx. I’ve never seen one, despite working on wildlife conservation in northern states for years. But I sure want to, and I want future generations to share the same chance, or better…. That’s why protecting lynx habitat is so important!

Canada lynx are rare in the lower 48 states and stick to snowy, forested, northern regions where they can hunt snowshoe hares, their primary prey. Because of their unique habitat requirements, lynx populations are clumped into isolated ‘islands’ of forest habitat in parts of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Lynx, ©Timothy J. Catton/USFS

Lynx (©Timothy J. Catton/USFS)

What is “Critical Habitat” anyway?

This mid-sized cat was officially protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2000 in response to a petition and litigation from Defenders and our colleagues. But just protecting the species is not good enough—we also need to protect its critical habitat, the places essential to the species’ conservation. When critical habitat is designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), it simply requires that we check to see if activities that require a federal permit, license, or funding (such as building roads, energy development, and timber management) will destroy or negatively impact that habitat. It’s a simple and sensible “look before you leap” precaution. Throughout the Canada lynx’s range, direct and indirect impacts from logging, road building, fire suppression and recreation threaten the existence of the species. To give the species a chance of adapting to the warming climate in the lower 48, they need a well-connected, robust population, and they need to be able to reclaim habitats in some places where past human activity may have wiped them out or driven them away.

The Battle over Lynx Critical Habitat

The long and drawn-out battle over designating lynx critical habitat began in 2006 when the FWS’s initial designation was essentially limited to national parks that were already protected, and was thrown out by the courts after evidence that the decision was altered for political purposes by Bush Administration officials. At the time, Defenders and our conservation allies threatened to take legal action and urged the FWS to revisit its flawed critical habitat designation. The agency’s second designation in February 2009 covered a much larger area—approximately 40,000 square miles, 20 times the amount of land as the 2006 proposal—but this was challenged in courts in 2010 and a revision was again needed. So now, we’re looking to ensure that the third time is the charm!

What You Can Do To Help

Earlier this year, FWS released a proposal to revise lynx critical habitat. Defenders’ team is currently working on analyzing and submitting our comments on that proposal to ensure that these changes help put lynx on the road to long-term recovery throughout its range.

Now is the time for you to participate in helping lynx maintain high-quality habitat into the future! The public comment period is open until December 26, 2013, to give folks the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal for the critical habitat revision. Click here to submit a comment!

Here are some talking points you can use to craft your comment to USFWS and help protect habitat for our vulnerable lynx:

  • I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide.
  • I also applaud the proposed designation of more than 41,000 square miles as critical habitat in parts of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming. Lynx need this entire habitat to remain intact and of high quality.
  • Parts of Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have known reproducing populations of lynx and high quality lynx habitat and should also be designated as critical habitat. The Kettle Range in northeastern Washington also contains high quality lynx habitat and persistent evidence of lynx occupancy. It should also be designated as critical habitat. Each of these areas is essential to lynx recovery!

 

Kylie Paul, Rockies & Plains Representative

31 Responses to “Time to Protect Canada Lynx Habitat in the Lower 48!”

  1. Jim Davis

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide.
    I also applaud the proposed designation of more than 41,000 square miles as critical habitat in parts of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming. Lynx need this entire habitat to remain intact and of high quality.
    Parts of Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have known reproducing populations of lynx and high quality lynx habitat and should also be designated as critical habitat. The Kettle Range in northeastern Washington also contains high quality lynx habitat and persistent evidence of lynx occupancy. It should also be designated as critical habitat. Each of these areas is essential to lynx recovery!

    Reply
  2. Ken McLeod

    we must protect all wildlife ..before it is to late .. our Wild Horses play a great roll in every way to help other Wildlife SURVIVE in the Wild ..

    Reply
  3. Jessica Sofen

    I volunteer at a wildlife center that has a Canadian lynx. He’s an absolutely stunning cat. I become more and more aware everyday how similar my own two domestic short-hairs are to their wild cousins. I really see no difference, except mine are a little more docile.

    Reply
  4. Robert Plummer

    Need to save the habitat for the Lynx, plus habitat for all species. Or our planet will suffer greatly!

    Reply
  5. Michele Wittig

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide. I fear that at the rate we are going, the ever-growing human population will completely engulf all our natural wildlife. What kind of a world will we live in, if steps are not taken to protect the other species on this planet?!!

    Reply
  6. Anna Eiskamp

    I support the conservation of habitat for the Lynx, and all animals in all areas of the United States and beyond.

    Reply
  7. tom mcmahon

    I live in new england and wish to have my areas set as protection zone for the lynx and any other endangered species

    Reply
  8. Karine Morice

    I support the Endangered Species Act as I think humans should learn to share this planet with all the other living beings. We must learn not to deprive them from their habitat.

    Reply
  9. Diana Mullen

    We’re losing far too much of the natural diversity and habitats for all being… please do everything necessary to stop this. Thank you!

    Reply
  10. april

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide.

    Reply
  11. Sally Dabrowski

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide.
    I also support the proposed designation of more than 41,000 square miles as critical habitat in parts of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming. Lynx need this entire habitat to remain intact and of high quality.
    Parts of Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have known reproducing populations of lynx and high quality lynx habitat and should also be designated as critical habitat. The Kettle Range in northeastern Washington also contains high quality lynx habitat and persistent evidence of lynx occupancy. It should also be designated as critical habitat. Each of these areas is essential to lynx recovery.

    Reply
  12. Kitty mcilroy

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide.

    Reply
  13. Richard Clark

    I used to live in NH’s White Mountains and always hoped to spot a Canadian Lynx, but never hard the opportunity, though I did see likely tracks. I believe we should feel compelled to protect habitat critical to these and other wild creatures who require it for their survival for, ultimately, our survival also depends on the preservation of wild places.

    Reply
  14. chad king

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide.
    I also applaud the proposed designation of more than 41,000 square miles as critical habitat in parts of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming. Lynx need this entire habitat to remain intact and of high quality.
    Parts of Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have known reproducing populations of lynx and high quality lynx habitat and should also be designated as critical habitat. The Kettle Range in northeastern Washington also contains high quality lynx habitat and persistent evidence of lynx occupancy. It should also be designated as critical habitat. Each of these areas is essential to lynx recovery!

    Reply
  15. Anne

    I have seen the Canadian Lynx in Vermont usually late winter early spring and they are beautiful. I rented a 500 acre farm and they came back to the fields each year. I couldn’t wait for them to come. Actually saw what Vermonters call a catamount was well which still exist here in Vermont but are very rare. Thanks for helping protect these special animals for the next generation

    Reply
  16. Eileen McDonald

    Please we are the custodians of this planet, it is our responsibility to car and protect all living beings

    Reply
  17. Dana Harper

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ This is a logical step to better protect lynx wherever they roam, as they sometimes travel far and wide.
    I also applaud the proposed designation of more than 41,000 square miles as critical habitat in parts of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming. Lynx need this entire habitat to remain intact and of high quality.
    Parts of Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have known reproducing populations of lynx and high quality lynx habitat and should also be designated as critical habitat. The Kettle Range in northeastern Washington also contains high quality lynx habitat and persistent evidence of lynx occupancy. It should also be designated as critical habitat. Each of these areas is essential to lynx recovery!

    Reply
  18. Jeff Geist

    Obviously support getting the lynx on the ESA. There are even some in the Catskill Mts in NYS and, for sure, there are some in the Adirondacks. Probably even some in Mass and Rhode Island. As is discussed, though, it’s all about preserving habitat. The lynx should have already been on the ESA a long time ago. Obama’s frack-happy-cut-and-mine-government will not allow the lynx on the ESA for the same reason that it has delisted the wolf; I don’t care what alleged plans are in progress. They are killing the ESA. The only way to save the lynx, the wolf, the Grizzlie (about to be delisted as well; then they’ll go for mtn lions, although those get killed all the time anyway) is go after the single OFFICIAL order-giver regards the killing of wolves for the sake of preserving habitat NOT for lynxes and wolves, but FOR frackers, tar sand oilers, MTR folks in the Appalachians, and lumberers everywhere) – which is President Barack Obama. In fact, Endangered species Coalition, exec director, Leta Hut, recently sent me a note where she claimed one of her board members personally spoke with Sally Jewell (Sec of the Interior – controls USFWS) and this board member claimed that when she asked Ms. Jewell about the wolves, Jewell told her there was “nothing she could do,” that she “had no choice.” To me, this means that she’s saying essentially that she is being forced to take the EXTERMINATION position that she has been taking – which could only come from one man: President Barack Obama, the man who PERSONALLY hand-picked her. Ms. Hut in her newsletter railed at Jewell saying essentially: “How can someone in a position of authority like that dare to say that there’s nothing she can do?!!” My interpretation is that Ms. Jewell, formerly known as a staunch environmentalist, was giving the board member a rare experience of radical honesty by saying essentially that she was not in a position to do anything about it. Therefore, I personally implored Ms. Hut (by telephone message x3) to understand that Jewell was coming as close as she possibly could to effectively admitting that Obama was ordering her not to re-list wolves. Obama is, in fact, the veritable poster boy for fracking and the like of other “extractive” Big Energy operations. My reaction was to go DIRECTLY after Obama on this, by virtue of which his CENTRAL position of ordering the delisting would be exposed. Ms. Lut, seemed blaming it on Jewell (who nobody knows from a hole in the ground) should be directly attacked here as responsible….to me, an awful idea. She did say that people should try to get business people to influence President Obama. Except doing that is not the same thing as directly holding him DIRECTLY) responsible and holding him responsible for cutting animals off of ESA protection for the sake of what Big Energy wants (almost all of which is ultimately tremendously destructive to both the environment AND people themselves. The only kind of person who does this is someone who has either made a deal with the devil or holds nothing sacred (the 2, of course, tend to go hand in hand). So yeah, give the lynx all the protection it can get I say, but get Obama first and wake up people who don’t even know what mountaintop removal is or that wolves still exist outside of mythology. The scandal that IS here must be disseminated in order to activate the sleeping people we’ve got here in this country.

    Reply
  19. Jeff Geist

    ADDENDUM: If one of Endangered Species Coalition’s board members witnessed Sally Jewell saying she has no choice regarding wolves but to follow the course of delisting, then that is tantamount to a virtual confession, since her only real boss is Obama. And if it’s someone else, than there’s something rotten in Denmark – which, of course, there is.

    Reply
  20. Pamela Terry

    I believe that, as human beings, we have a responsibility to utilize our resources to preserve the life around us, especially those of animals that need our help. We seem to forget that we are not the only ones on this planet, and are all too content to sit idly by and ignore the issues plaguing the animals around us- even worse, we sometimes knowingly cause these issues and simply do not care until it is too late. It would be a shame if we were to be faced with another “too late” situation. How many times has it been too late to save a species? How many times could preventative measures have been taken early on to prevent the extinction of several animal species? The diversity of life on this planet is something beautiful beyond belief, and something that we take for granted. I am in full support of the revision of the lynx critical habitats, because I am in full support of this species’ recovery and would love to see them thriving in their full range. Let’s take action now, so that these animals can be ensured a bright future.

    Reply
  21. Inna Larsen

    This is what I submitted to the federal govt website.

    Protecting and expanding lynx habitat helps not only the lynx but also all the other species in the ecosystem. Most of the threatened species are threatened due to lack of contiguous habitat. What happens in fragmented areas is a population crash due to smaller population and accumulation of deleterious genes due to inbreeding. Additionally fragmented habitat presents a hazard due to human activity and invasive species which affect the ecosystem. Thus it is absolutely crucial to preserve lynx habitat and connect fragments by designating additional corridors that benefit all wildlife. Please do not let political grandstanding interfere with sound conservation principles

    Inna Larsen
    Biology BA, Animal Behavior MA

    Reply
  22. Marina Drake

    I support expanding the Endangered Species Act’s protections to lynx ‘‘where found within contiguous United States.’’ Lynx need the proposed designation of more than 41,000 square miles as critical habitat in parts of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming. Additionally, parts of Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have known reproducing populations of lynx and high quality lynx habitat and should also be designated as critical habitat, as does the Kettle Range in northeastern Washington. It should also be designated as critical habitat.

    Reply
  23. bob

    It bothers me to see so many “preservationist” comments on a site like this. Conservation is not the same as protectionism. Whatever happened to the “multiple use” doctrine? The same folks who are blogging away about wildlife are using tons of resources like electricity (somehow you gotta convert stored energy like fossil fuel to electrons to drive those iphones and androids and keep the cable tv going). You live in houses made of timber yet never consider that the lumber grows in the places you are trying to “protect”. I grow tired of listening to this debate as if preservationists are the “only” good guys. There are lots of us who want to see lynx flourish. But you city folk think that somehow the great north woods was preserved by you, when it was preserved by a timber/paper company culture that has gone, as a business model, far away. The days of one huge landowner controlling the forests (and keeping roads and people out) are gone. Recreational interests use every road the paper and timber companies can build for their own access, driving the solitude loving lynx further into the remaining wilderness. You can love something to death, people…

    Reply

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