Change proposed in critical habit for lynx in US

SEATTLE (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a revision in the critical habitat designation for a species of lynx listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The proposal would designate more than 41,000 square miles within the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming as critical habitat for the Canada lynx.

The federal government is asking for public comment on aspects of the proposal, including whether areas where the lynx have recently moved into, including parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, should be added to the critical habitat.

The proposed revision comes after several snowmobiling groups launched unsuccessful legal challenges of the previously designated critical habitat.

As part of the proposal announced Wednesday, federal officials said they considering excluding more than 1,900 square miles of tribal lands within the states of Maine, Montana and Washington.

The new critical habitat adds some land as well, including some private timber lands in northern Maine, as well as Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service land in northeastern Wyoming. The lynx have been protected since 2000.

The Center for Biological Diversity applauded the Fish and Wildlife proposal, saying the extra space could help the rare wildcat whose population has been reduced by trapping and habitat loss.

"Like many animals, Canada lynx need quiet places free of disturbance from snowmobiles and other human activities to survive, so we're thrilled the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed expanding their critical habitat," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The federal government has also asked the public to consider whether some lands in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Washington should be considered essential habitat, in part because they connect the places where lynx live.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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