WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to draft a rule to revoke federal protections for the Canada lynx.
The lynx is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Such a federal rule would have to be published in the Federal Register. From there, the agency would take public comments, review and analyze the comments, and conduct a peer review before announcing a final decision, the agency said.
The big cat can be found Washington mainly in the Loomis State Forest northwest of Conconully. According to an October 2016 review of the feline’s status in the state, “survey and research efforts indicated that a single resident population occurs in Washington and is restricted mainly to western Okanogan County.”
Some have been detected in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, but “these detections are too few to represent a resident population,” the report said.
State biologists estimate there are 20-100 lynx in Washington. The Canada lynx was listed as endangered under Washington law in 2016.
“Lynx populations in Washington have declined since they were identified as a threatened species in 2000,” said Dave Werntz, science and conservation director at Conservation Northwest. “A significant amount of the habitat where they remain has been lost to recent large fires.
“The Trump Administration’s decision that lynx no longer deserve federal protection is shameful, cavalier and contrary to best available information. It’s clear that lynx are facing extinction threats and warrant federal wildlife protections.”
Scientists and wildlife advocates have warned that climate change could reduce lynx habitat and the availability of its favorite food source, the snowshoe hare.
The lynx is smaller than a cougar but bigger than a bobcat.