Colorado Lynx Left in the Cold by Habitat Plan


For Immediate Release: November 9, 2005


Jacob Smith, Executive Director, Center for Native Ecosystems, (303) 810-6017
Rob Edward, Carnivore Conservation Director, Sinapu, (303) 447-8655 ext. #2
Mark Pearson, Executive Director, San Juan Citizens Alliance, (970) 259-3583
Erik Molvar, Wildlife Biologist, Biodiversity Cons. Alliance, (307) 742-7978

Denver — Despite five years of lynx recovery efforts in Colorado, the birth of more than 100 wild lynx kittens, and broad scientific consensus about the importance of protecting lynx habitat, the proposed critical habitat plan for lynx released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entirely omits Colorado, New Mexico, and southern Wyoming.

“We can release all the lynx in the world, and they can make a lot of kittens, but if we don’t also protect their habitat this entire effort will probably fail,” said Jacob Smith, Executive Director of Center for Native Ecosystems.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife began releasing lynx in Colorado in 1999. Although the earliest efforts faltered, subsequent releases have resulted in more than 200 adult lynx released in Colorado and more than 100 lynx kittens born in the wild.

There is broad consensus among lynx biologists that protecting lynx habitat is an important factor in their long-term survival. Much of the lynx research conducted focuses precisely on the question of what that habitat is and how much lynx need. Two key documents include the Lynx Science Report and the Lynx Conservation Assessment and Strategy.

“Colorado has done a terrific job so far with its lynx recovery program. The one missing and critical piece is protecting lynx habitat,” said Rob Edward, Carnivore Conservation Director of Sinapu. “Stewardship of lynx demands stewardship of lynx habitat.”

Most lynx habitat in Colorado is located on federal land, so the burden of adopting habitat protection plans falls squarely on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the agency responsible for recovering the lynx) and the U.S. Forest Service (responsible for managing most lynx habitat in Colorado). Not only is the Fish and Wildlife Service completely abrogating its responsibility to help recover Colorado’s lynx population, the Forest Service, too, is failing to protect lynx habitat. As documented in a November 2003 report, the Forest Service has been promising since February 2000 to adopt a region wide lynx conservation plan. Nearly six years later this commitment remains unfulfilled.

“The new city of 10,000 people atop Wolf Creek Pass proposed by Texas developer Red McCombs is located smack dab in the heart of the most critical habitat linkage for lynx in all of Colorado,” explained Mark Pearson, Executive Director of San Juan Citizens Alliance. “That’s why we need critical habitat protected for lynx, so the Forest Service does not willy nilly approve massive real estate developments and destroy the ability of reintroduced lynx and their kittens to thrive in Colorado.”

“Thanks to the Colorado reintroduction efforts, there are now lynx moving into and even denning in Wyoming,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist with Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. “But we’ll never recover lynx if we don’t protect lynx habitat.”



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