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.
Here’s a pretty good article on the difficulties faced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in evaluating the status of the Canada lynx . . .
Jim Zelenak has a long winter workload ahead of him.
He has to count a wildcat few people ever see, one that wanders with all the regularity of the Northern Lights, carrying so much legal and political baggage that it’s only now getting a five-year status review first assigned 15 years ago. Zelenak wants to know all we can know about the Canada lynx.
Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started its formal five-year status review of the predator many people confuse with the more common bobcat. But lynx are bigger (18-20 pounds), more specialized (large paws ideal for hunting in snow) and considerably rarer than the more adaptable bobcat.
And the agency is looking to the public for any available lynx information, according to spokesman Ryan Moehring. That includes potential threats like habitat loss or disease, conservation actions that have improved lynx survival and observed changes in lynx populations. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 1.
Although focused primarily on the Canada lynx situation in Maine, this article offers some useful general observations, as well . . .
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is starting a review of federally protected Canada lynx at a time when the largest population of the cats in the Lower 48 appears to be poised for a decline.
The end of clear-cutting in Maine with the Forest Practices Act of 1989 has allowed forests to fill in, taking away some of the habitat preferred by snowshoe hares upon which lynx feed, potentially reducing populations of both species, said Jim Zelenak, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana.
A number of conservation groups feel the feds are being too restrictive when it comes to lynx habitat designation . . .
Wildlife advocates sued the federal government Monday after it declined to designate some areas in the West as critical habitat for the imperiled Canada lynx.
WildEarth Guardians and three other groups assert that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service improperly excluded the southern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado from 39,000 square miles of protected habitat for the elusive, forest-dwelling wild cat.
The plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Montana, also say the agency left out important habitat in portions of Washington state, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
Another federal decision that will leave everyone grumbling . . .
Canada lynx gained federal protections in New Mexico on Thursday, but U.S. wildlife officials again declined to designate critical habitat for the elusive animal in the Southern Rockies, parts of New England and other areas considered non-essential to their survival.
The two-part finding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service means the forest-dwelling wild cat will be protected as threatened throughout the lower 48 states. Lynx that had spread to New Mexico’s San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains after being introduced in Colorado previously were not protected.
However, officials decided that potential lynx habitat in the Southern Rockies of New Mexico, Colorado and portions of Wyoming were not areas essential to conservation of the species. As a result, lynx in the region still will be protected from hunting and trapping, but there will be less stringent reviews of human activities that could affect the dense forests they need to survive…
Also left out of the 39,000 square miles of designated critical habitat were portions or all of six national forests in Idaho and Montana, and areas with lynx in northern Vermont and northern New Hampshire.