Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fish and Wildlife Service designates critical lynx habitat

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - Last updated 3:24 p.m. PT

HELENA, Mont. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating 1,841 square miles in three states as critical habitat for the threatened Canada lynx.

The territory is far less than the service proposed originally.

A federal rule announced by the agency Wednesday applies to lynx habitat in 1,389 square miles in Montana's Glacier National Park; 317 square miles in Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park; and 135 square miles in Washington's North Cascades National Park.

The Endangered Species Act defines critical habitat as places with features essential for the conservation of a species threatened or endangered. A designation may bring special management of habitat.

The rule is to be published Thursday in the Federal Register.

Lynx, typically weighing 18 to 23 pounds, are on the federal list of threatened species. They prey on the snowshoe hare and occupy forested areas in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains.

Originally, the Fish and Wildlife Service wanted to place a critical-habitat designation on about 18,000 square miles in Maine, Minnesota, the northern Rocky Mountains and north-central Washington. The proposal was reduced after consideration of studies and public comment, the agency said.

Lands removed include those covered by plans for lynx management, property owned by American Indian tribes and lands not managed for commercial forestry.

The critical-habitat rule for lynx is in response to a court order stemming from a lawsuit by Defenders of Wildlife and others. ?source=rss

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