The lynx: To list or not to list?

  You may be seeing more of the elusive Canada lynx if conservationists have their way. Groups such as the Biodiversity Legal Foundation have long argued that this cousin of the bobcat needs protection under the Endangered Species Act. Last spring, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the lynx. The agency has until next June to decide if the cat is "endangered" or just "threatened." Protecting the lynx could be the largest endangered species effort ever for federal land managers, sprawling across 53 national forests and 24 Bureau of Land Management districts. The lynx historically ranged in forests along the Northern tier states, as far south as Utah and Colorado in the Rockies. But no one knows how to manage for the benefit of the cat. "There's not a lot of information to base management programs on," says Bill Ruediger, a Forest Service biologist in charge of the interagency lynx biology team. Protecting the cat could involve curtailing road building, timber harvesting, mining, dam building, home building, recreation, snowmachine travel and trapping, says Ruediger. "There is no big plan to keep people off federal land," he adds. "I'd be surprised if there are any restrictions at all." Not everyone agrees. "It's another spotted owl surrogate," warns Dave Skinner, spokesman for People For The USA.

The public comment period for listing the lynx ends Nov. 16. For information call Lori Nordstrom at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena, Mont., at 406/449-5225, ext. 208. Send comments to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Lynx), 100 North Park, Suite 320, Helena, MT 59601.

* Mark Matthews

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