Washington state lists Canada lynx as endangered rare cats - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington state lists Canada lynx as endangered rare cats

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SEATTLE, WA – Late last week, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to list Canada lynx as “endangered” under the state equivalent of the Endangered Species Act. This move comes as estimates for the state population of lynx fall to an estimated 54 individuals.

The Canada lynx was previously listed as “threatened", however population declines and habitat degradation have led the species to the brink of extirpation in Washington. Although listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2000, endangered status under state law affords the species with additional protections from the state of Washington.

“Although we are saddened that Canada lynx in Washington have declined to the point where endangered species protections are necessary, we wholeheartedly applaud the Commission for recognizing that the lynx needs and deserves enhanced protections in Washington,” said John Mellgren, attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center.

Canada lynx, medium-sized members of the feline family, are habitat and prey specialists. Heavily reliant on snowshoe hare, lynx tend to be limited in both population and distribution to areas where hare are sufficiently abundant. Like their preferred prey, lynx are specially adapted to living in mature boreal forests with dense cover and deep snowpack. The species and its habitat are threatened by climate change, logging, development, motorized access, and trapping, which disturb and fragment the landscape, increasing risks to lynx and their prey.

“With increasing threats from climate change and development, it’s long past time lynx receive every possible protection; we commend the Commission for taking this important step,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “Future actions to aid lynx recovery in Washington will have the added benefits of protecting habitat shared by many other species, and helping the state become more climate resilient.”