A Canada lynx kitten in Colorado, photographed by Tanya Shenk, lead biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife's lynx recovery program.
Judge orders U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revise a 2009 critical habitat designation that didn’t include any federal lands in the Southern Rockies
*Links to extensive Summit Voice coverage of Colorado lynx issues here
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act when it excluded Colorado from a critical habitat designation for threatened Canada Lynx.
U.S. District Judge Donald Malloy said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must reconsider its 2009 decision and propose a revised habitat designation. The court decision came after a number of environmental groups sued the agency over the decision.
Conservation groups are hopeful the revised designation will include lands in Colorado and the rest of the Southern Rockies.
“The decision takes away all their reasons for not designating critical habitat in Colorado,” said Paige Bonaker, staff biologist with the Center for Native Ecosystems.
The coalition includes the Sierra Club, Center for Native Ecosystems, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and Native Ecosystems Council. The groups argued that the Southern Rockies and portions of the Northern Rockies in Montana and Idaho that were excluded provide vital high-elevation habitat for lynx.
Proving that a federal agency has made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision can be difficult, given that courts tend to give the government a lot of latitude, but in this case, the judge seemed to say it was a no-brainer, based on the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.
“The lynx in the Southern Rockies are thriving, but we have to protect the places they live if they are going to continue to do so,” said Bonaker. “Historically, lynx populations existed in Colorado, and the reintroduction program in the Southern Rockies has been very successful. Lynx in the Southern Rockies are important to the survival of the species in the United States.” Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, Environment, Summit County Colorado, wildlife | Tagged: Canada lynx, endangered species, lynx critical habitat, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, Summit Voice, threatened lynx, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | 8 Comments »