U.S. wants to take Canadian lynx off endangered list, but some biologists disagree

Close view of a Canada lynx with a snowy background Photo by Michael Zahra

The American Fish and Wildlife Service is taking the Canadian lynx off its endangered species list, but some biologists don’t agree with the decision.

Saying that the lynx population is “recovered,” the Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to revoke its protected status, which will end any laws or protections to ensure the preservation of the species’ habitat. But wildlife advocates say that the Canada lynx is still at risk and they will challenge the decision in court, if necessary.

Some recent assessments of Canada lynx populations in the U.S. have painted a bleak picture of the animal’s future. A Species Status Assessment done by American biologists in 2016 said that some lynx populations would likely cease to exist by 2100. However, the most recent Status Assessment changed its methods, putting less emphasis on climate change threats. Since most climate change projections see the lynx’s habitat dwindling, taking climate change into consideration makes a big change in future projections of lynx populations.

Canada lynx walking in the snow
Most of the Canada lynx’s territory is in Canada, but their habitat also includes portions of the United States. Photo by Keith Williams.

“The earlier finding was that lynx remain in danger and are likely to be exterminated by the end of the century. Since that’s the best science, then we need to follow that,” Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center told CTV News.

However, Jodi Bush of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana disagrees, saying that lynx are out of the so-called woods. “Based on what we know, we think the habitat has improved, protections around the habitat have improved, and therefore lynx populations have improved.”

Canada lynx were first listed as threatened in America in 2000. Since then, the designation has protected over 2 million acres of forests and prevented the building of logging roads and industrial projects. Some believe that development interests may be influencing the change in their endangered status.

Canada and America have separate endangered lists (the Endangered Species Act governs the States, while in Canada we use the Species at Risk Act), so Canada has no clout in deciding whether America keeps a species on the list, even if the species’ territory is spread across both countries, as is the case of the lynx.

Interestingly, the Canada lynx is not listed as threatened in Canada, where some populations are considered secure, though it is listed as “regionally endangered” in some provinces, including Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Featured Video