Canada Lynx

Canada lynx
Photo by Keith Williams

A Native Cat Back From the Brink

The elusive Canada lynx once ranged from Alaska to northern New Mexico, west into California, and east to Maine. By the early 1970’s, however, lynx were all but eliminated from the Southern Rockies due to trapping, shooting, and habitat degradation.

A Reintroduction Effort

In response to the local extinction of lynx in our region, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife) launched an ambitious and popularly-supported reintroduction effort. Rocky Mountain Wild launched a successful community outreach campaign with our conservation allies and overcame fierce opposition from the small but politically powerful anti-lynx lobby. Between 1999 and 2007, 218 lynx were released in the San Juan mountains of southwestern Colorado.

Protection of Habitat

Unfortunately, lynx face new problems, including habitat fragmentation, disease, highway mortality, shooting, ski area expansion, climate change, and a lack of adequate habitat protections. Rocky Mountain Wild has begun anew to protect essential lynx habitat in places like Wolf Creek Pass, the Rio Grande National Forest, and parts of the I-70 Mountain Corridor.

Current Status Update

In 2000, the Canada lynx was listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a Species Status Assessment in 2017 claiming that Canada Lynx has recovered and does not face extinction in the foreseeable future. A 5-year status review was also released in 2017, proposing to delist Canada Lynx from the Endangered Species Act. The next step will be for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to publish an official proposed ruling to delist Canada lynx at which time we will provide comments.