US wildlife officials says snow-loving lynx no longer need special protection | SummitDaily.com

US wildlife officials says snow-loving lynx no longer need special protection

By Matthew Brown Associated Press

** FILE ** A Canada lynx heads into the Rio Grande National Forest after being released with three other lynx Tuesday, April 19, 2005, near Creede, Colo. Colorado wildlife officials told members of the state legislature's Joint Agriculture Committee that the state is doing all it can to ensure that the endangered animals survive after being reintroduced into the mountains over the past six years. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

BILLINGS, Mont. — Wildlife officials say Canada lynx no longer need special protections in the United States following measures to preserve populations of the snow-loving big cats.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it will begin drafting a rule to revoke the lynx's threatened species status, which has been in place since 2000.

Some scientists and wildlife advocates have warned that climate change could reduce lynx habitat and the availability of its primary food source — snowshoe hares.

But a two-year review by government biologists concludes lynx populations remain resilient and even have increased to historical levels in parts of Colorado and Maine.

Lynx were reintroduced in Colorado in 1999 with more than 200 transplanted from Canada and Alaska over the next seven years. Since then, multiple generations have been born, and they’re commonly known to pursue snowshoe hares within lodgepole pine-forested sections south of Breckenridge near Copper Mountain and Vail Pass.

The animals also are found in Montana, Minnesota, Idaho and Washington state. Canada lynx are bobcat-sized, but with huge paws to help them navigate deep snow.