It’s really hard to know how many Canada lynx exist in the Gem State, in part because of their secretive and solitary nature. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Bryon Holt, between 1960-1991 there were 70 verified records of the animals in Idaho, mostly in remote mountains in northern Idaho.
“We don’t know that there’s necessarily been any decline of lynx in Idaho specifically,” says Holt.
The predators eat snowshoe hares, and have large paws which help them move quickly and quietly through the snow. Holt says that the animals were put on the Endangered Species List in 2000 because the Forest Service land where they mostly live didn’t have protections for them.
Since then, forest protections have been added and Holt says the species has recovered. He acknowledges that if climate change contributes to less snow in their habitats, this could impact the animals.
“But our modeling moving forward into the foreseeable future for lynx in at least the next 50 years indicates that there’s sufficient habitat that will support snowshoe hares and lynx. Is there going to be less? Potentially yes.”
Last week, the Trump Administration announced the Canada lynx no longer needs federal protections across six states. But Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center says the move is purely political, and that science doesn’t back it up.
“All indications from what we’ve seen and heard – including from the peer-reviewed papers and literature – is that lynx were still warranted for listing and they were sort of barely surviving in the lower 48 states and they certainly weren’t recovering.”
The center has sued the federal agencies over lynx protections before and Bishop says they would consider doing so again if the delisting process moves forward.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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