Judge Rules Critical Habitat Designation for Canada Lynx is Inadequate
July 29, 2010
The Canada lynx faces better odds of survival, thanks to a district court decision requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to reconsider its 2009 final critical habitat designation for the wide-roaming wildcat. Sierra Club, Center for Native Ecosystems, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and Native Ecosystems Council challenged the 2009 habitat designation in court because it failed to include essential habitat in the Southern Rockies and portions of the Northern Rockies in Montana and Idaho. These areas provide essential high-elevation habitat for the lynx, which is a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. In his decision, the district court judge ruled that FWS had arbitrarily excluded these lands from protection.
As Eric Huber, Sierra Club Senior Staff Attorney, said, “[t]his is a great victory for the Canada lynx and everyone who cares about its future. The Rocky Mountain high country and forests are vital to lynx survival and recovery, and the federal judge was right to take the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to task for excluding these areas from protection.”
FWS must now reexamine lynx habitat in Colorado, Montana, and Idaho, and propose a revised critical habitat designation. Though the ruling does not guarantee that additional habitat will be designated, it does ensure that interested parties will soon have another opportunity to provide FWS with information relevant to lynx populations in those three states. The current designation will remain in place until the revised decision is released.
May 29, 2009
On May 26, 2009, Sierra Club and its allies took action to protect the Canada Lynx from the threats of global warming. The environmental groups filed a lawsuit in Montana against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), challenging the agency’s selection of designated lynx habitat in the Midwest.
In their legal challenge, Sierra Club, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council and the Center for Native Ecosystems argued that the land area that FWS intends to designate as critical habitat for the lynx is not sufficient to protect the wild cat. In its habitat designation, FWS failed to consider the impacts of global warming on the species and afforded no protection to the Southern Rockies of Colorado, a higher elevation lynx habitat that may be increasingly important for the cat’s survival as the climate warms.
As Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club’s Deputy Executive Director, said, “[f]or the lynx to survive in a changing climate, the Fish and Wildlife Service must provide appropriate habitat and create wildlife corridors that will allow for migration as temperatures rise. The current designation fails to consider the effects of climate change on lynx habitat, and that is unacceptable.”
Details and Documents:
Canada lynx win with recent court decision
July 30, 2010, Sierra Club Press Release
Order on Critical Habitat Designation for Canada Lynx
July 28, 2010, U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Missoula Division
Global Warming Concerns Lead to Challenge of Lynx Habitat Designation
May 27, 2009, Sierra Club Press Release
Sierra Club et al. Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
May 26, 2009, U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Missoula Division
Climate concerns prompt lawsuit over lynx habitat
May 27, 2009 by Patrick Reis, The New York Times
Groups challenge lynx decision
May 27, 2009 by Susan Gallagher, Associated Press
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.