US wildlife managers ordered to expand habitat protections for Canada lynx in Idaho, Montana and Colorado

US wildlife managers ordered to expand habitat protections for Canada lynx in Id

On Wednesday, a federal judge asked the US wildlife managers to expand habitat protections in Montana, Idaho, and Colorado for the Canada lynx. It is an uncommon wild cat found in the Rockies and mountain forests of many other states.

Chief US District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, Montana, ordered that the US Fish and Wildlife Service made a mistake in 2014 by revising its critical habitat designations for the lynx with slight or no expansion further than the actual plan decided five years earlier.

Huge paws make it easy for the Canada lynx to hunt in deep, mountain snows. It was listed as threatened in 2000 under the US Endangered Species Act.

Government scientists said that Canada lynx isn't considered endangered in Alaska or Canada, where it is widely found in forest regions, but its population in the Lower 48 states is very small, though real numbers are not known so far.

But federal wildlife managers delayed a proposal for the protection of regions called critical for the elusive feline's survival and recovery. Canada lynx is slightly bigger than a bobcat and nearly double as huge as a domestic house cat.

In 2009, the Fish and Wildlife Service reserved nearly 39,000 square miles in parts of six states and prohibited activities like logging, snowmobiling, mining, and many others that may disturb the lynx.

The move was instantly sued by conservationists, who argued that the plan offered inadequate protections in Idaho, Colorado, and Montana.

In 2010, a federal judge took side of conservationists and asked the agency to reconsider and possibly enlarge critical habitat land in the states.

The Fish and Wildlife Service found 38,954 square miles in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Maine, Washington State, and Minnesota as the lynx's critical habitat in 2014. At that time, the decision prompted another lawsuit by conservationists demanding greater protections.