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US drops bid to end protections for threatened Canada lynx

Canada lynx.
Canada lynx.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials have agreed to drop their attempt to strip Canada lynx of federal protections, under a court settlement approved Monday by a judge in Montana.

The legal settlement by the U.S. Interior Department comes after wildlife advocates sued to retain protections for the snow-loving wild cats, which have been listed as a threatened species since 2000.

Under the Trump administration, officials said lynx had recovered after their numbers rebounded in some areas.

But some scientists and wildlife advocates warned climate change could undo that progress, by reducing lynx habitat and the availability of a key food source — snowshoe hares.

Canada lynx are about the size of bobcats, but with huge paws to help them navigate deep snow. There's no reliable estimate of their population.

The move to end protections came when government biologists shortened their time span for considering climate change threats, from 2100 to 2050, because of what officials said were uncertainties in long-term climate models.

A government assessment based on that shorter time span concluded lynx populations remained resilient and even have increased versus historical levels in parts of Colorado and Maine.

The animals also are found in Montana, Minnesota, Idaho and Washington state.

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