USFWS proposes revising Canada Lynx Critical Habitat designation in U.S.
Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until December 26, 2013
by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
October 6, 2013
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to revise the critical habitat designation for the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in the contiguous United States, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The proposal would designate approximately 41,547 square miles as critical habitat within the boundaries of five critical habitat units in the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming.
As part of this proposal, the Service is considering whether to exclude 1,915 square miles of Tribal lands and lands covered by lynx conservation plans in Maine, Montana and Washington. If excluded, the remaining 39,632 square miles would reflect an increase of 632 square miles from the 2009 designation of 39,000 square miles.
"The Service’s proposal to revise the boundaries of five critical habitat units is the first step in tailoring protections for Canada lynx to its unique conservation needs," said Noreen Walsh, the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Regional Director. "We welcome the submission of significant scientific and commercial data during the comment period to enhance our ability to protect Canada lynx where appropriate."
The proposal includes the revised boundary of the lynx distinct population segment (DPS), which would ensure that all lynx in the contiguous United States are protected under the ESA. It identifies areas proposed for critical habitat based on where the best science indicates the habitat could support lynx populations over time. The Service determined that currently occupied habitat is sufficient to conserve lynx; therefore, the designation does not include areas not currently occupied by lynx.
The lynx was protected under the ESA in 2000, when it was listed as threatened throughout its range in the contiguous United States. The Service designated critical habitat for the species in 2006 and revised the designation in 2009 to include habitat in six northern states. The current proposal includes most of the areas designated in 2009, as well as additional private timber lands in northern Maine, and Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service lands in northwestern Wyoming.
Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until December 26, 2013. The Service is particularly interested in receiving comment on the inclusion of certain lands in the designation, as well as the appropriateness of excluding lands covered by management plans that provide for conservation of the lynx.
A public hearing will be held on the proposed rule on Monday, November 25, 2013, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive, Helena, Montana, 59601. The formal public hearing will be preceded by an open house and general information meeting from 2 to 5 p.m. An informational public meeting will be held on Monday, November 4, 2013, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the George W. Stearns High School auditorium at 199 State Street, Millinocket, Maine, 04462.
For more information on the proposal and the associated maps by state of the proposed revised critical habitat designation, please visit the Canada lynx webpage: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/lynx/index.htm.
Comments and information may be hand delivered or mailed to the Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203. Comments and information may be submitted electronically via the federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov.