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E-M:/ LYNX ALERT--ACT NOW TO PROTECT OUR RARE NATIVE CATS - Public



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Enviro-mich folks:  

At least two major federal endangered species issues regarding species native
to Michigan are currently making their way to public comment and review. One
is the wolf, which I will write about in a separate posting. 

The second is the proposed listing of the Canada lynx as a federally
threatened species.  This proposed listing is the result of lawsuits brought
by an array of environmental groups against the USFWS for failing to take
action to protect this species, despite strong evidence of decline and
endangerment.  In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the lynx has had some 
unconfirmed sitings, though no confirmations in recent years. It is native
and with habitat conditions improving in some parts of the UP its chances of
returning are improved.  However, the listing will provide greater impetus for
protection of habitat, a critical factor for this creature's successful
recovery.

A public comment period has now been set and hearings are scheduled for this
summer and fall.  There will be only one hearing in the Midwest:

Tuesday, September 15,
Ashland, WI -- 7-9 pm*
N. Great Lakes Center County Road G, near Hwy. 2
* Public hearing preceded by an informational open house from 6-7 pm.

WRITTEN COMMENTS DUE SEPTEMBER 30, 1998 -- send to:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Lynx)
100 North Park, Suite 320
Helena, Montana, 59601

Below are some excerpts contained in a release from Predator Project P.O. Box
6733 Bozeman, MT 59771 406-587-3389 (ph) 406-587-3178 (fax)

LYNX PROPOSED FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROTECTION (FINALLY!)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has just proposed to protect the
lynx as a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act.  This
proposal is the result of more than six years of effort by Predator Project
and other conservation groups, and is the most encouraging progress yet
toward securing on-the-ground protections for lynx and their habitat.

While the "threatened" status would give the lynx more protection than it
has ever had before, there are three parts to the proposal that should be
improved if lynx are to have the best chance of recovering across our
northern forests:

* The lynx should be protected as an "endangered," rather than a
"threatened" species;
* The geographically separate lynx populations across the country should be
treated individually;
* FWS is claiming that lynx in Wyoming and Idaho are not "resident
populations." In fact, there is ample evidence of a lynx population in each
state and they deserve full protection under the Act.

* THE LYNX MUST BE PROTECTED AS ENDANGERED

An "endangered" status would offer stronger protections for the lynx and
its habitat than a "threatened" listing, and less room for the federal and
state agencies to compromise away what habitat is left. Specifically, under
the Threatened designation, the FWS is able to draft "special rules" that
open the door to potential habitat destruction and human-caused mortalities.

For instance, FWS has already proposed drafting a special rule to give
states and tribes primary authority over lynx recovery, through "voluntary
development and implementation of a conservation plan." Voluntary state
authority over lynx management and conservation has driven lynx to its
present imperiled status!

An estimated 500 lynx - scattered in isolated areas - still roam Montana,
and perhaps 200 survive in Washington State, fewer than 50 live in Idaho,
Wyoming, Minnesota, and Maine, and scattered sightings are still reported
in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, and
New York.  High levels of historical trapping, and past and ongoing loss
and destruction of their forest habitat are the primary causes for this
decline.  Strong habitat protections are essential for all of these
populations if we are to reverse the steady decline of lynx populations.

* CONSIDER THE FIVE LYNX POPULATIONS - IN THE NORTHEAST, LAKE STATES,
SOUTHERN ROCKIES, NORTHERN ROCKIES AND NORTHWEST - SEPARATELY

FWS proposed the "threatened" status for all five lynx populations because
the state officials in Montana believe that population is stable. Yet it is
clear that the status of the lynx population in Montana has no bearing on
the remnants left in Maine, Minnesota, or Colorado. At a minimum, to treat
populations across the U.S. as separate would force FWS to increase
protections for endangered populations in the Northeast, Lake States, and
southern Rocky Mountain regions. At best, all lynx populations should be
fully protected.

* WYOMING AND IDAHO POPULATIONS MUST BE INCLUDED

FWS currently defines Idaho and Wyoming as areas that do not contain
"resident" lynx.  This is simply not true, since biologists estimate that
as many as 50 lynx inhabit each state (four kittens were born in Wyoming
this spring!)  Ironically, these lynx that are most in need of protection
could be given less protection than adjacent lynx in Montana and Washington
because they aren't considered "residents."



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