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05/28/2009

Sierra Club Challenges Lynx Habitat Designation

In a precedent setting challenge, four conservation groups have filed a legal challenge in Federal District Court in Missoula against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding its designation of lynx habitat.  The Sierra Club, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council, and the Center for Native Ecosystems make the case that the land area the FWS intends to designate as critical habitat for the Canada lynx does not take into account habitat it will need as the climate warms.  This is the first such challenge to rely on concerns over the impact of global warming on habitat.

Canada lynx

Photo: Colorado Division of Wildlife

In Februrary 2009 the FWS revised its designation of critical habitat for the lynx to approximately 39,000 square miles in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington.  While this is a significant piece of protected habitat, the designation does not include the land that will become essential to the lynx as the climate changes, especially high-altitude snowy areas.  Additionally, the FWS afforded no protections to the Southern Rockies of Colorado, despite the presence of a breeding lynx population.  This habitat is likely to become extremely important for lynx survival in the future due to its higher elevation.  We hope to see this designation altered such that it will protect habitat for the lynx both now and in the future.  Planning for climate change and managing lands as such must be the model for wildlife and land managers if we are to protect our heritage for future generations.

Read the Sierra Club press release

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