For Release on
February 24, 2009
Sartorius (406) 449-5225 x 208 Diane Katzenberger (303) 236-4578
Revised Critical Habitat Designated for Canada
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a revised
critical habitat designation for the Canada lynx, a species listed
as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In total,
approximately 39,000 square miles fall within the boundaries of
the revised critical habitat designation in the States of Maine,
Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington.
Critical habitat is a term defined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
It identifies geographic areas containing features essential for
the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may
require special management considerations or protection.
Areas designated as critical habitat for the Canada lynx include
boreal forest landscapes that provide one or more of the following
beneficial habitat elements for the lynx including snowshoe hares
for prey, abundant, large, woody debris piles that are used as
dens, and winter snow conditions that are generally deep and
fluffy for extended periods of time. All of the designated areas
have recent verified records of lynx occurrence and reproduction
and as a result are considered occupied.
In 2000, the Canada lynx was protected under the ESA as a
threatened species throughout its range in the contiguous United
States. In 2006, the Service designated 1,841 square miles of
critical habitat for the lynx within the boundaries of Voyagers
National Park in Minnesota, Glacier National Park in Montana, and
North Cascades National Park in Washington. In February 2008, the
Service proposed to revise the critical habitat designation after
questions were raised about the integrity of the scientific
information used and whether the decision made was consistent with
appropriate legal standards.
Critical habitat is being designated based on the best scientific
information identifying only those areas determined to contribute
to the conservation of the Canada lynx. Areas included in the
revised critical habitat designation include the following:
Maine: Approximately 9,497 square miles of habitat in portions of
Aroostook, Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Somerset
Counties. Timber harvest and management is the dominant land use
within this area.
Minnesota: Approximately 8,065 square miles of habitat in portions
of Cook, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis Counties and Superior
National Forest. Timber harvest and management is the dominant
Northern Rocky Mountains – Northwestern Montana and a small
portion of northeastern Idaho: Approximately 10,102 square miles
in portions of Boundary County in Idaho; and Flathead, Glacier,
Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Pondera, Powell
and Teton Counties in Montana. The designation also includes
National Forest lands and lands managed by the Bureau of Land
Management in the Garnet Resource Area. Timber harvest and
management is the dominant land use.
North Cascades – North-central Washington: Approximately 1,836
square miles in portions of Chelan and Okanogan Counties and lands
managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the Spokane District.
Timber harvest and management is the dominant land use.
Greater Yellowstone Area – Yellowstone National Park and
surrounding lands in southwestern Montana and northwestern
Wyoming: Approximately 9,500 square miles in portions of Gallatin,
Park, Sweetgrass, Stillwater, and Carbon Counties in Montana; and
Park, Teton, Fremont, Sublette, and Lincoln Counties in Wyoming.
Impacts to lynx in this area include fire suppression or fuels
treatment, the lack of an international conservation strategy for
lynx, vehicular traffic, and residential and commercial
Based on peer review, public comments and biological information
received during the comment period, the Service excluded
approximately 1,725 square miles of habitat from this revised
critical habitat designation. Excluded areas include: Tribal
lands, Private lands enrolled in the Maine Healthy Forest Reserve
Program that employ active lynx habitat conservation measures, and
State lands in Washington managed under a lynx habitat management
Lynx are medium-sized cats, generally measuring 30-35 inches long
and weighing 18-23 pounds. They have tufts on their ears, short,
black-tipped tails, large, well-furred feet and long legs for
traversing snow. Lynx are highly specialized predators of snowshoe
hare and are strongly associated with what is broadly described as
boreal forest habitat.
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