The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Canada lynx may have recovered to the point where it could be delisted as a threatened species.
The elusive cat was listed as threatened nearly 20 years ago. But since then, Jennifer Strickland with the Fish and Wildlife Service says the federal government has done a good job of protecting and expanding lynx-friendly habitat.
“A lot of the lynx’s population, especially here in the West, it’s all on public lands. So when our federal partners like the Forest Service and the BLM undertake conservation actions that benefit the lynx, that’s what we were looking at. And so that’s a big part of the good news today.”
Until final approval, the Canada lynx will remain on the threatened species list. It lives in northwestern Montana, northeastern Idaho, Wyoming and other states.
Some conservation organizations say it’s too soon to delist the lynx.
“I don’t think the threats to lynx have been taken care of," says Arlene Montgomery, the program director for Friends of the Wild Swan in northwestern Montana. "In fact, I believe there are more threats since the lynx were listed in 2000.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experts say climate change remains an important factor for the conservation of lynx, but it’s not enough to make the animals extinct.