Critical Habitat Designations For Threatened Lynx Need Review, Judge Rules

Sep 7, 2016

A federal judge in Montana ruled today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider including critical habitat areas in a plan to protect the threatened Canada lynx.

The elusive forest-dwelling lynx was put under Endangered Species Act protection in 2000.

In 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized critical habitat designation for the medium-sized cat, some environmental organizations didn’t think enough landscape was included, and sued.

Matthew Bishop with Western Environmental Law Center represented WildEarth Guardians in the case challenging the omission of habitat in Colorado.

"So at the end of the day I think this decision will give the lynx a fighting chance to recover in the southern Rockies and force the federal government to go back and ensure that their decision are consistent with the best available science."

The judge also agreed with other organizations that sued over habitat not included in western Montana and Idaho.

Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Serena Baker.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is pleased that the final rule on lynx critical habitat will remain in effect, but we are disappointed with the judge's remand."

The judge’s ruling says the Service's current habitat designation will remain in effect until a potential new one is created. A required timeline for an updated designation was not ordered by the judge.