Lynx to get ESA listing at last
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1998:
WASHINGTON D.C.––The U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service on February 12 agreed to list
Canadian lynx as an endangered species in the continental
states, and to publish a lynx protection
plan by June 30, 1998.
USFWS, under pressure from loggers
and trappers, had repeatedly refused to list lynx,
despite the recommendations of staff biologists
who believe fewer than 100 remain south of the
Canadian border, in isolated pockets of Montana,
Idaho, Washington, and Maine. As lynx prefer to
den in old growth, the listing will probably mean
more restrictions on old growth logging. Trappers
may find their activity curtailed, as well. The
average auction price of lynx pelts is by far the
highest paid for the skin of any native American
species, due to scarcity. When located, however,
lynx––and bobcats, their close kin––are notoriously
easily enticed by dangling bait.
The lynx protection plan is to be finalized
Ruling that in failing to list lynx,
USFWS “applied an incorrect legal standard,
relied on glaringly faulty factual premises and
ignored the views of its own experts,” Washington
D.C. federal district judge Gladys Kessler in March
1997 ordered USFWS to reconsider a listing, at
request of 15 animal and habitat protection organizations
in a motion brought by Jasper Carlton of
the Biodiversity Legal Foundation. USFWS then
agreed that lynx were eligible for an endangered
species listing, but claimed to lack the budget to
implement the listing. In December 1997, Kessler
in effect told USFWS to protect lynx or else.
A Colorado Division of Wildlife plan to
reintroduce lynx and wolverine within two years,
announced in January, is open for comment until
March 15. CDOW hopes to buy lynx from
Canadian trappers who would otherwise kill and
pelt them, and release 50 per year, 1999-2001, in
highlands with plentiful snowshoe hares. Lynx
were last seen in Colorado in 1973, and a track
was last found––near Vail––in 1991. The track
discovery is reportedly holding up a proposed 885-
acre expansion of the Vail ski resort.
Wolverines haven’t been seen in
Colorado for more than 80 years.
A similar lynx reintroduction plan
advanced by the Idaho Fish and Game Department
and the University of Idaho was put on partial hold
when Wyoming federal judge William Downes
ruled that wolves reintroduced to the northern
Rocky Mountains could not be designated a “nonessential
experimental population,” and must
instead receive full Endangered Species Act protection.
That ruling, which called for the removal
of the reintroduced wolves and full protection of
any wolves who invade the Yellowstone region on
their own, is currently under appeal.
Idaho and Colorado officials had hoped
that reintroducing lynx could prevent them from
receiving ESA protection.
Idaho is continuing to research possible
lynx reintroduction sites, in case further developments
should make reintroduction advantageous.
Only one reintroduction of lynx to the
wild has ever previously been attempted––in the
Adirondack Forest Preserve of upstate New York,
about a decade ago. Instead of settling where they
were put, the 90 lynx involved in that effort dispersed
in every direction. Many were hit by cars,
often 100 miles or more from the release site.