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U.S. Steps Up Lynx Protection But Lawsuits Over Habitat Loom

DENVER — The federal government will extend protections to all imperiled Canada lynx in the lower 48 U.S. states, but wildlife advocates said Thursday it was ignoring important parts of the rare cats' range and they vowed to challenge the move in court. Lynx roam high country from Maine to Washington and south through the Rocky Mountains. They are classified as threatened in the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a rule to be published Friday that it was extending protections to all lynx "where found" in the contiguous U.S. The law broadly bans killing or injuring imperiled animals without a special permit. Separately, the service is designating some 38,954 square miles in Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Washington and Wyoming as critical habitat.

WildEarth Guardians applauded the extension of safeguards to all lynx but said it was disappointed that the critical habitat area was reduced by 2,593 square miles from the agency’s proposal last year. A designation of critical habitat gives greater protections to environments which threatened species rely on to survive, and restricts activities such as mining, logging and snowmobiling in the high country where lynx are found.

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— Reuters