Here’s an interesting piece on the efforts over the last 20-plus years to collect data on rare, elusive species like the Canada lynx . . .
In a state where regal mountains and unconfined rivers demand attention and esteem, there exists also the less obvious, but no less significant creatures that call these places home. And one would be hard-pressed to find a Montanan who hasn’t acknowledged a simple creed: our state wouldn’t be as special if our wild landscapes lacked wildlife.
“These animals are part of Montana’s history, and when some of these species start dropping off, like you lose a lynx here or some grizzlies there, then you lose the essence of our state’s culture,” said John Squires, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula.
Squires has devoted decades of his life to researching some of Montana’s most elusive animals, the ones most humans will never witness in their natural habitats. At the heart of those efforts is the threatened Canada lynx, an incredibly rare and snow-dependent cat facing potential removal from the federal Endangered Species List despite there being a lack of sufficient scientific evidence to support delisting.
Here’s a pretty good, locally focused backgrounder on the USFWS proposal to delist the Canada Lynx. You’ll encounter several familiar names . . .
The new millennium brought a new challenge for Lorin Hicks.
For years, Hicks has worked as a wildlife biologist for Weyerhaeuser and its predecessor, Plum Creek Timber Co., studying the inhabitants of Northwest Montana’s sensitive forests.
He gained a new research focus in 2000, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Continental U.S. population segment of Canada lynx as a threatened species. That move required the agencies that manage area forests to take the lynx’s well-being into account.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing the Canada lynx from the threatened species list . . .
Wildlife officials in the United States declared Canada lynx recovered on Thursday [January 11] and said the snow-loving wild cats no longer need special protections following steps to preserve their habitat.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said it will begin drafting a rule to revoke the lynx’s threatened listing across the Lower 48 state under the Endangered Species Act. Wildlife advocates said they would challenge the move.
First imposed in 2000, the threatened designation has interrupted numerous logging and road building projects on federal lands, frustrating industry groups and Western lawmakers.
Here’s a well-researched piece by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian. It discusses the status of the ‘lynx rule,’ which recently survived a whole series of judicial appeals . . .
A court order to do more work on protecting Canadian lynx in Rocky Mountain forests could become a late-season battleground for congressional action this winter.
Last week, the Supreme Court let stand a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the U.S. Forest Service has to take a big-picture look at how it protects critical lynx habitat across 12 million acres touching 11 national forests. While wildlife advocates claimed a major win for the Endangered Species Act, timber industry supporters vowed to rewrite laws to speed up logging projects.
“It’s now known as the Cottonwood decision, and it affects pretty much the whole Nort
hwest,” said Julia Altemus of the Montana Wood Products Association. “I’m hoping we can find a path forward, either legally or by a congressional path.”
New trapping rules designed to better protect lynx and wolverine will take effect as scheduled . . .
Trapping advocates’ objections to new state rules on lynx and wolverine trapping aren’t enough to block a settlement requiring tougher protections for those animals, according to a federal judge in Missoula.
“The fact that, as a result of the regulatory changes … trappers may be left with obsolete traps, will have to check their traps more frequently, and may ultimately trap fewer animals does not constitute formal legal prejudice sufficient to torpedo the parties’ compromise,” U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen wrote in his order to dismiss Tuesday. “Their apparent displeasure with the final product is insufficient to reject the parties’ settlement.”
The original case pitted the Friends of the Wild Swan, WildEarth Guardians and Alliance for the Wild Rockies against the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and its board of commissioners.
Montana FWP wants to tighten trapping rules near national parks to protect Canada Lynx . . .
Montana wildlife officials are considering stricter regulations in an effort to reduce the chances of Canada lynx being caught in traps set for other animals outside Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.
The plan presented to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission on Thursday is part of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed in 2013 by three environmental groups over trapping in the threatened species’ habitat.
Several of the settlement’s statewide restrictions are already in place, but additional changes are needed in special zones near Yellowstone National Park and a wider area outside Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks attorney Aimee Fausser said.
The feds are doing their required Canada lynx threat assessment, but they are a bit behind schedule . . .
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is applying a new threat assessment for federally protected Canada lynx from Maine to Washington State, delaying completion of the first five-year review.
The structured threat assessment will involve several other agencies, at least 15 states and more than 20 Native American tribes. The resulting assessment will serve as the basis of a streamlined five-year review, and a recovery plan if one is necessary, said Jim Zelenak of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana.
The delayed five-year review is the first since Canada lynx were declared threatened in 2000. Designations of critical habitat have been made in parts of Maine, Wyoming, Washington, Montana, Idaho and Minnesota.