Missoula, MT – The Canada lynx was listed as threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in March 2000, yet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to complete the required recovery plan to ensure the survival of the elusive cat.
Today, a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups dedicated to the long-term survival and recovery of lynx filed a lawsuit to compel the Agency to complete a recovery plan to bring the species back from the brink of extinction. Threats to the lynx include loss of habitat and connectivity from improper forest management, development, and climate change, and mortality from starvation, predation, poaching, and incidental trapping.
The goal of the ESA is to prevent the extinction of and to provide for the eventual de-listing of imperiled species. As such, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to adopt and implement recovery plans for all listed species that describe the specific actions needed to achieve de-listing, include measurable criteria, and estimate the time and costs required to achieve recovery goals.
“Recovery plans are one of the most important tools to ensure a species does not go extinct,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center in Helena who is representing the wildlife advocacy groups in the case. “The ESA-mandated plan provides a road map to eventual de-listing by laying out what needs to happen and how best to get there,” added Bishop.
“Lynx will never fully recover in Montana and throughout the rest of their range in the lower 48 states until state and federal agencies have coordinated, concrete conservation actions designed to promote their recovery,” said Arlene Montgomery, Program Director of Friends of the Wild Swan. “Recovery plans are vital to ensuring that lynx not only persist, but thrive. They address the threats and provide the strategy that will lead to recovering lynx that builds upon the Endangered Species Act listing and designation of critical habitat.”
“Offering the Canada lynx protection under the Endangered Species Act absent a Recovery Plan, the Service merely created a paper tiger,” explained Duane Short, Wild Species Program Director for Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. “Its legal obligation to develop and implement a Recovery Plan is intended to produce meaningful actions that will actually enhance long-term survival of the species. Listing the lynx as Threatened under the Act, absent a Recovery Plan, is a job left undone.”
“The lynx’s recovery continues to be hampered by a ‘business as usual’ mentality from the federal and state agencies,” added Bishop. “Recent data suggests the lynx population in Montana may be in decline and yet, we’re still seeing development, trapping and snaring, roads, and industrial logging projects – including clear cuts – in some of the last remaining areas still occupied by lynx, including protected critical habitat” said Bishop. “Coordination among the various entities at the federal, state, and local level is needed to address the cumulative effects of these activities on lynx and their habitat. This is exactly what a federal recovery plan can do.”
The Western Environmental Law Center is representing Friends of the Wild Swan, Rocky Mountain Wild, San Juan Citizens Alliance, and the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance.
4 thoughts on “Wildlife Advocates Sue Feds to Force Long-Awaited Recovery Plan for Canada Lynx”
What else did we expect!
I bet you’d prefer another 13 years of foot-draggin’, Lyle, right? Care to offer your opinion on the merits of the case…or not. Your choice, really.
If successful, this will probably be a good thing for Federal land management agencies and state wildlife agencies. At least the sideboards might finally be (more clearly) set and easy to follow. No more amorphous cumulative effects analysis, interpreting legal (occupied/unoccupied) status, etc, etc. A judge will love it.
I would think this would be a huge and costly undertaking though. I would also bet that the final product would be challenged by the very people who advocated, er, sued, for it and participate in its development. Sort of like the Idaho Roadless Rule.
Sorry if this next part is again over your head Matt, but it’s very clear what these organizations (excuse me – coalition) are doing…playing legal chess with the pawns being lynx, wolverine, whitebark pine, sage grouse, white footed prairie dog, geez….what else…let’s see oh, the giant palouse earthworm, and on and on….
I’ll render it down for you Matt: “Let’s get as many things on the ESA list as we can and we can stop things that WE (morally superior people) don’t feel agree with OUR ideals (including clearcuts).” I believe at one point there was a quote from someone at Western Watershed Project to the exact same effect as the above (they’ve substantially sanitized their site).
But again….if done well, a good recovery plan will be a plus for land managers who are trying to follow the law and do a good job and keep the (non-litigious) public happy, and not harm the environment and provide for happy places for fuzzy things an so on. I wish them well.
The Feds are the ones treating endangered species like chess pieces. The Canada lynx is a perfect example. It took nearly a decade and how many rounds of litigation before the FWS issued a warranted finding? And once they were listed, the FWS was supposed to designate critical habitat. What happened? Julie Macdonald, a Bush political appointee with no science background determined that critical habitat should only be designated in National Parks. She resigned when the FWS determined that she monkey-wrenched the lynx critical habitat issue and multiple other determinations. The FWS then designated more than 10 million acres of critical habitat in National Forests. It only took several more years and rounds of litigation.
Enviros don’t view themselves as “morally superior people.” Congress and President Nixon determined that we have a duty as a country to ensure species don’t go extinct:
Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of
animal life with which our country has been blessed. It is a many-faceted treasure, of
value to scholars, scientists, and nature lovers alike, and it forms a vital part of the
heritage we all share as Americans. I congratulate the 93d Congress for taking this
important step toward protecting a heritage which we hold in trust to countless future
generations of our fellow citizens. Their lives will be richer, and America will be more
beautiful in the years ahead, thanks to the measure that I have the pleasure of signing
into law today.
President Nixon, December 28, 1973.
The Congress finds and declares that–
(1) Various species of fish, wildlife, and plants in the United States have been rendered extinct as a consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation.
(2) other species of fish, wildlife, and plants have been so depleted in numbers that they are in danger of or threatened with extinction;
(3) these species are of esthetic ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people;
(4) the United States has pledged itself as a sovereign state in the international community to conserve to the extent practicable the various species of fish or wildlife and plants fating extinction.
16 U.S.C. §1531.