Killing Cats for Sport and Profit

On January 11, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released its “scientific review” of the Canada lynx in the contiguous U.S., which concluded that the species “may no longer warrant protection” under the ESA (Endangered Species Act of 1973).

An estimated 2,000 Canada lynx remain in the wild, its range extends from Maine, to northeastern Minnesota, and westward to western Montana, northeastern Idaho, north-central Washington and western Colorado. Lynx are a long-legged cousin of the bobcat – with tufted ears. Lynx can grow almost 36 inches long and weigh up to 30 pounds. These reclusive, snow-loving cats prefer dense forest habitat and feed primarily on the snowshoe hare, but will take pine squirrels when times are tough.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientist, Megan Kosterman, 50% of each lynx home range must be mature, dense forest to provide optimal habitat for lynx to breed and raise kittens, and no more than 15 percent of each lynx home range should be clearcut. Not a single National Forest is complying with this ecological recommendation – a system failure devastating to population trajectories.  FWS refuses to address this issue.

The FWS readily admits the possibility of the creatures being “functionally extirpated” from some of their main population centers during this century, the agency will nevertheless “begin development of a proposed rule to delist the species.”

Without a shred of credible evidence, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote:  “Considering the available information, we found no reliable information that the current distribution and abundance of resident lynx in the contiguous United States are substantially reduced from historical conditions.”  The agency, of course, has no estimated current population number of lynx because the agency simply has no idea.  The reason is simple; the agency no longer monitors lynx populations.

Trapping lynx was outlawed 17 years ago following the Endangered Species Act listing, but lynx numbers continued to plummet because past and current logging and road-building has destroyed the dense, mature and old growth forests upon which lynx rely for reproduction and survival.  Lynx can no longer be found in the Gallatin Range, North of Yellowstone National Park.  Lynx numbers are falling in the Seeley-Swan Valley, which is the largest lynx population in Montana.  In 1990, there was a resident population of lynx in the Garnet Mountains northeast of Missoula, most likely living there since the last Ice Age.  Now, they’re gone too.

The last population estimate in Montana by Dr. John Squires, a Forest Service lynx scientist, was “about 300” lynx in Montana. In 1994, Montana’s Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks estimated there were 700 to 1,050 lynx throughout Western Montana.  FWS ignores simple arithmetic, and the obvious decline in lynx populations.

In 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled the FWS had violated the ESA through its delay. It mandated the agency to either release a plan by 2018, or determine that such a plan would be unnecessary. The agency chose the latter. The real method to FWS’s delisting madness is to nullify a court deadline this week that required that FWS finally, after its pathetic 17-year delay, to produce a recovery plan for lynx.  Rather than produce the court-ordered recovery plan by the deadline, FWS simply filed a document arguing that lynx no longer need any protections under the Endangered Species Act. FWS does not need to produce a recovery plan.  This is a transparent attempt to circumvent the law and court order.

The arithmetic and science inform us that lynx and lynx habitat are in decline. There has been no lynx recovery since 2000.

Don’t let politics trump science and common sense! I urge you to contact FWS Regional Director Noreen Walsh and demand that FWS retract its recommendation to delist the lynx.  The science, facts, and law require a recovery plan for this imperiled species, not the complete elimination of existing protections.


Noreen Walsh, Regional Director, FWS Mountain-Prairie Region                                   Telephone: (303) 236-7920                                                                                                                Email:                                                                                                 Street Address: 134 Union Blvd, Lakewood, CO 80228                                                       Mailing Address: PO Box 25486, Denver, CO 80225

4 thoughts on “Killing Cats for Sport and Profit

  1. It is really encouraging to see people like you, Steve, writing about mother Nature and bringing her back to focus. It seems disappearing lynx population is just one bit of a huge problem. We, the humans, are the real lynx’s problem. Disappearing lynx is just a symptom, isn’t it? With such reckless behavior we manifest, we’ll probably intoxicate ourselves and properly save mother Nature from complete destruction. With each new generation the mess around us gets worse. As if there was no upper limit to which we can pile our garbage. It can be depressing to think about it, but I do my best to make some difference. I wish we could all get a grip on our conscience and stop many wrongdoings, especially destroying our only habitat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Not a single National Forest is complying with this ecological recommendation – a system failure devastating to population trajectories. FWS refuses to address this issue.”
    Would you mind sharing the source behind that statement? Just a friendly request.

    I’m not sure we have proper Canadian lynx’s in my area, but we sure do have ‘bobcats’ which sound pretty similar. My family had a timber contract years ago to take some mature cedar off a parcel of state land. They couldn’t get all the logs out of the swamp before spring hit, so a huge pile of them sat over the summer and into the next winter.
    They came back in the next winter when it was froze up again and one of the guys my grandpa hired started messing around the pile, getting the logs ready to haul. Evidently that pile of logs became a home for a cute little bobcat over the summer and when this fellow moved a log the cat pounced on him. That cute little kitty clenched on to his neck and very nearly ruptured his jugular. Damn near ripped him open from chin to cock, as my grandpa and uncle would recall it. Poor fellow never worked in the woods again. The cat was fine though, I imagine she found a new pile of something to nest in once all the logs were gone.


    1. I am the source of that statement. If the scientific recommendation were being taken seriously, and followed in practice, federal agencies would incorporate a mandatory Forest Plan standard to reflect the scientific knowledge, which is based on field research. No National Forest or BLM Unit is currently guided by such a standard (maintain a minimum of 50% of each lynx home range in mature, dense forest, and limit clearcuts to less than 15 percent of each lynx home range). Bobcats and lynx have vastly different ecological requirements. It is the man-made law of each nation to oppose Nature — commerce trumps all life forms. It is the spiritually-dead system in which we currently “live.”

      Liked by 1 person

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