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Canada lynx protections deal sealed by US, environmentalists

Matthew Brown

BILLINGS (AP) – United States (US) wildlife officials have agreed to craft a new habitat plan for the snow-loving Canada lynx that could include more land in Colorado and other western states where the rare animals would be protected, according to a legal agreement made public on Tuesday.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service faces a 2024 deadline to draft the new plan for the wild cats after settling a legal challenge from two environmental groups – Wild Earth Guardians and Wilderness Workshop. US District Judge Donald Christensen issued an order late on Monday approving the settlement.

The groups sued to enforce a prior court ruling from Christensen that said federal officials wrongly excluded areas of Colorado, Montana and Idaho when they designated almost 104,000 square kilometres in 2014 as critical for the lynx’s long-term survival.

On land designated as critical, federal agencies are required to consult with wildlife officials before taking or allowing any activities that could destroy or alter the habitats of a protected species. Those consultations can potentially lead to restrictions of logging in federal forests or limitations on dirt roads used for recreation.

Christensen cited the presence of a reproducing lynx population in the southern Rocky Mountains.