SAVING THE CANADA LYNX
Canada lynx are made for hunting in deep snow, with thick cushions of hair on the soles of their feet that act like built-in snowshoes. Appropriately enough, this adaptation helps them stalk their favorite prey, the snowshoe hare — unlike any other cat, the Canada lynx relies almost exclusively on the snowshoe hare for food. But lynx aren’t only predators; they’ve also fallen prey to trapping, especially when wearing spotted cat fur became all the rage in the ’60s and ’70s. Today, Canada lynx are still caught in traps set for other species, and their habitat is fast disappearing.
As snows melted in the spring of 2000 — after one petition and two lawsuits were filed on the lynx’s behalf — it finally enjoyed a new chance for recovery as a species officially declared threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to designate critical habitat until six years later, when it granted the lynx only about a tenth of the originally proposed area. The Service has also failed to issue a recovery plan.
Luckily, in February 2009, the Fish and Wildlife Service expanded the species’ critical habitat designation to include about 25 million acres — though the designation still left out habitat in Colorado, where a lynx reintroduction program is in full swing. In March of the previous year, thanks to a Center lawsuit, a judge had ruled that Minnesota was in violation of the Endangered Species Act by allowing traps that harm and kill Canada lynx. The court ordered the state to take all action necessary to ensure that no more lynx are killed by traps within core lynx habitat.
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2009 Critical habitat designation
2008 Comments on critical habitat
2006 Critical habitat designation
2000 Federal Endangered Species Act listing
1994 Finding against listing
ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROFILE
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Contact: Noah Greenwald