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Canada Lynx May No Longer Be Protected Under the Endangered Species Act

The Canada lynx may no longer be protected by the Endangered Species Act. Find out more about the ongoing debate over this cousin of the bobcat.

Kim Campbell Thornton  |  May 2nd 2018


The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) may soon no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended in January that the species be delisted.

Where are Canada Lynx found?

Despite the name Canada lynx, the wildcat — a cousin of the bobcat — has healthy populations in Alaska where it can be trapped for fur. In 14 other states it is protected and cannot be trapped or hunted. According to the website for the Midwest region of USFWS, threats to lynx habitat are timber harvest, recreation and related activities.

Lynx were federally listed as threatened in 2000 in 14 states, and since then populations in the northeast have grown. Maine, Minnesota, Montana and Washington support resident breeding populations. Of those, only Washington has seen a significant decline in lynx numbers, attributed to forest fires, according to a 2008 study. Canada lynx have also been reintroduced into Colorado, although it’s unclear whether that population will survive over the long term.

The Debate Over Canada Lynx Endangerment

Nonetheless, the International Union of Conservation of Nature considers the Canada lynx a species of least concern because it is widespread and abundant over most of its range. Conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife argues the opposite on its website, stating that while lynx populations in the lower 48 rise and fall with prey populations, the current numbers can be generalized as low, substantially reduced from historical levels.

For now, ESA protections remain in place, but Fish and Wildlife plans to begin the process to delist Canada lynx by publishing a proposed rule in the Federal Register, seeking public comments, reviewing and analyzing comments and conducting a review before making a final decision.

Kim Campbell Thornton has been writing about cats and dogs for 32 years. She is the award-winning author of more than two dozen books and hundreds of articles on pet care, health and behavior.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you

Thumbnail: Photography ©KenCanning | Getty Images.

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