Canada Lynx Protection Discussed 1998

[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 130 (Wednesday, July 8, 1998)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 36994-37013]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-17771]

[[Page 36993]]

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Part II

Department of the Interior

_______________________________________________________________________

Fish and Wildlife Service

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50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Proposal To List the 
Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada 
Lynx; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 63, No. 130 / Wednesday, July 8, 1998 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 36994]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF03

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposal To List 
the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada 
Lynx as a Threatened Species; and the Captive Population of Canada Lynx 
Within the Coterminous United States (lower 48 States) as Threatened 
Due to Similarity of Appearance, With a Special Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes to list 
the contiguous United States population segment of the Canada lynx 
(Lynx canadensis) as threatened, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act). This population segment includes the States 
of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, 
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New 
York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The contiguous United States 
population segment of the Canada lynx is threatened by human alteration 
of forests, low numbers as a result of past overexploitation, expansion 
of the range of competitors (bobcats (Felis rufus) and coyotes (Canis 
latrans)), and elevated levels of human access into lynx habitat. This 
rule also lists the captive population of Canada lynx within the 
coterminous United States (lower 48 States) as threatened due to 
similarity of appearance with a special rule.

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by 
September 30, 1998. Public hearing locations and dates are set forth in 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials concerning this proposal should be 
sent to the Field Supervisor U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana 
Field Office, 100 N. Park Ave., Suite 320, Helena, Montana 59601. 
Comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 
address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kemper McMaster, Field Supervisor, 
Montana Field Office (see ADDRESSES section) (telephone 406/449-5225; 
facsimile 406/449-5339).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public hearings on this proposal will be 
held in the following locations:

Western States

Colorado

    Wednesday, July 22, 1998 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Ramada 
Inn, 124 W. 6th St., Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This public hearing 
will be preceded by an informational open house from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    Tuesday, July 28, 1998, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Sheraton 
Denver West, 360 Union Boulevard, Lakewood, Colorado. This public 
hearing will be preceded by an informational open house from 6 p.m. to 
7 p.m.

Idaho

    Thursday, September 10, 1998, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and from 6 
p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Coeur d'Alene Inn and Conference Center, 414 
West Appleway Avenue, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Montana

    Tuesday, July 21, 1998, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. 
until 8 p.m. at the Colonial Inn Best Western, 2301 Colonial Drive, 
Helena, Montana.
    Wednesday, July 22, 1998, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. 
until 8 p.m. at Cavanaugh's at Kalispell Center, 20 N. Main, Kalispell, 
Montana.

Oregon

    Tuesday September 15, 1998, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and from 6 
p.m. until 8 p.m. at Eastern Oregon University, Hoke University Center, 
1410 L Avenue, Rooms 201-203, LaGrande Oregon.

Washington

    Tuesday, September 8, 1998, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and from 6 
p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Cedars Inn, 1 Appleway, Okanogan, Washington.

Wyoming

    Wednesday, August 12, 1998, from 2 p.m until 4 p.m and from 6 p.m 
until 8 p.m. at the Cody Auditorium, Cody Club Room, 1234 Beck Avenue, 
Cody, Wyoming.

Eastern States

Maine

    Tuesday, September 15, 1998 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Old 
Town High School, 240 Stillwater Ave, Old Town, Maine.

Great Lakes States

Wisconsin

    Tuesday, September 15, 1998 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Northern 
Great Lakes Center on County Road G near Hwy 2, west of Ashland, 
Wisconsin. This public hearing will be preceded by an informational 
open house from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Background

    The Canada lynx is a medium-sized cat with long legs, large, well-
furred paws, long tufts on the ears, and a short, black-tipped tail 
(McCord and Cardoza 1982). Adult males average 10 kilograms (kg) (22 
pounds (lb)) in weight and 85 centimeters (cm) (33.5 inches (in)) in 
length (head to tail), and females average 8.5 kg (19 lb) and 82 cm (32 
in) (Quinn and Parker 1987). The lynx's long legs and large feet make 
it highly adapted to hunting in deep snow.
    The bobcat (F. rufus) is a North American relative of the Canada 
lynx. Compared to the lynx, the bobcat has smaller paws, shorter ear 
tufts, a more spotted pelage, and only the top of the tip of the tail 
is black. The paws of the lynx have twice the surface area of those of 
the bobcat (Quinn and Parker 1987). The lynx also differs in its body 
proportions in comparison to the bobcat. Lynx have longer legs, with 
hind legs that are longer than the front legs, giving the lynx a 
``stooped'' appearance (Quinn and Parker 1987). Bobcats are largely 
restricted to habitats where deep snows do not accumulate (Koehler and 
Hornocker 1991). Hybridization between lynx and bobcat is unknown 
(Quinn and Parker 1987).
    Classification of the Canada lynx (also called the North American 
lynx) has been subject to revision. The Service, in accordance with 
Wilson and Reeder (1993), recognizes the Canada lynx as L. canadensis. 
The Service previously used the name L. lynx canadensis for the Canada 
lynx (Jones et al. 1992; S. Williams, Texas Tech University, pers. 
comm. 1994). Other scientific names still in use include Felis lynx or 
F. lynx canadensis (Jones et al. 1986; Tumlison 1987).
    The historical and present North American range of the Canada lynx 
north of the contiguous United States includes Alaska and that part of 
Canada that extends from the Yukon and Northwest Territories south to 
the United States border, and east to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In 
the contiguous United States, the lynx historically occurred in the 
Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon; the Rocky Mountains from 
Montana, Idaho, and Oregon south to Utah and Colorado; the western 
Great Lakes region; and the northeastern United States region from 
Maine, south to New York and Pennsylvania, and east to Massachusetts 
(McCord and Cardoza 1982; Quinn and Parker 1987).

[[Page 36995]]

    In the contiguous United States, Canada lynx inhabit a mosaic 
between boreal forests and subalpine coniferous forest or northern 
hardwoods, whereas Canada lynx habitat in Canada and Alaska is the 
boreal forest ecosystem (Barbour et al. 1980; McCord and Cardoza 1982; 
Koehler and Aubry 1994; M. Hunter, University of Maine, pers. comm. 
1994, Colorado Division of Wildlife 1997).
    Canada lynx are specialized predators that are highly dependent on 
the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) for food. Snowshoe hare prefer 
diverse, early successional forests with stands of conifers and shrubby 
understories that provide for feeding and cover to escape from 
predators and protection during extreme weather (Wolfe et al. 1982, 
Monthey 1986, Koehler and Aubry 1994). Lynx usually concentrate their 
foraging activities in areas where hare activity is high (Koehler et 
al. 1979; Parker 1981; Ward and Krebs 1985; Hash 1990; Weaver 1993; 
Koehler and Aubry 1994; D. Winger, U.S. Forest Service, pers. comm. 
1994).
    Canada lynx utilize late successional forests with large woody 
debris, such as downed logs and windfalls, to provide denning sites 
with security and thermal cover for kittens (McCord and Cardoza 1982, 
Koehler 1990, Koehler and Brittell 1990). In Washington, lynx used 
lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), spruce (Picea spp.), and subalpine fir 
(Abies lasiocarpa) forests older than 200 years for denning (Koehler 
and Brittell 1990). Based on information from the western United 
States, Koehler and Brittell (1990) concluded sites selected for 
denning also must provide for minimal disturbance by humans and 
proximity to foraging habitat (early successional forests), with 
denning stands at least 1 hectare (ha) (2.471 acres (ac)) in size.
    Lynx require adequate travel cover (frequently intermediate 
successional forest stages) to provide connectivity within a forest 
landscape for security, movement within home ranges, and access between 
den sites and foraging areas (Brittell et al. 1989, Koehler and Aubry 
1994). Such areas also may provide foraging opportunities.
    The size and shape of Canada lynx home ranges appear related to the 
availability of prey and the density of lynx (Koehler and Aubry 1994). 
Documented home ranges vary from 12 to 243 square kilometers (sq km) 
(5-94 square miles (sq mi)) and larger (Saunders 1963; Brand et al. 
1976; Mech 1980; Parker et al. 1983; Koehler and Aubry 1994).
    The association between lynx and snowshoe hare is considered a 
classic predator-prey relationship (Saunders 1963; van Zyll de Jong 
1966; Quinn and Parker 1987). In much of its North American range, 
Canada lynx populations fluctuate with the approximate 10-year hare 
cycle of abundance (Elton and Nicholson 1942); as hare populations 
increase, lynx populations increase. Generally, it is believed that 
when hare populations are at their cyclic high, they deplete their food 
resources and hare populations decline. This causes lynx populations to 
decline as a result of reduced reproductive success caused by an 
inadequate alternate food source (Nellis et al. 1972; Brand et al. 
1976).
    Snowshoe hare provide the prey quality necessary to support high 
density lynx populations (Brand and Keith 1979). Lynx also prey 
opportunistically on other small mammals and birds, particularly when 
hare populations decline (Nellis et al. 1972; Brand et al. 1976; McCord 
and Cardoza 1982). Apparently, a shift to alternate food sources may 
not compensate for the decrease in hares consumed (Koehler and Aubry 
1994). The lower quality diet causes sudden decreases in the 
productivity of adult females, and decreased survival of young, which 
causes recruitment to the breeding population to essentially cease 
(Nellis et al. 1972; Brand and Keith 1979).
    Based primarily on studies in the western mountains of the 
contiguous United States, it appears lynx and snowshoe hare in more 
southern latitudes may not exhibit strong population cycles (Dolbeer 
and Clark 1975; Wolff 1980; Buehler and Keith 1982; Brittell et al. 
1989; Koehler 1990; Koehler and Aubry 1994). Wolff (1982 in Koehler and 
Aubry 1994) hypothesized that the presence of additional predators and 
competitors of hares at lower latitudes accounts for this pattern. The 
relative stability of hare populations in southern latitudes also may 
be a result of patchy, suboptimal habitat (Buehler and Keith 1982, 
Koehler 1990, Koehler and Aubry 1994).
    Periodic increases in lynx numbers in the contiguous United States 
may be accentuated by dispersal of transient animals from Canadian 
populations. Canada lynx are capable of dispersing extremely long 
distances (Mech 1977; Brainerd 1985; Washington Department of Wildlife 
1993); for example, a male was documented traveling 616 km (370 mi) 
(Brainerd 1985). Canada lynx may disperse long distances from their 
normal range to search for food when snowshoe hare populations decline 
(Ward and Krebs 1985; C. Pils, in litt. 1994; Koehler and Aubry 1994). 
Canada lynx also may disperse when local lynx densities are high (U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service 1977; Thiel 1987; J. Conley, Idaho Department 
of Fish and Game, in litt. 1994).
    Because lynx occurrence throughout much of the contiguous United 
States is on the southern periphery of the species' range, there is 
speculation that presence of lynx in the contiguous United States is 
solely a consequence of dispersal from Canada. This has led to 
speculation that most of the United States may never have supported 
self-sustaining, resident

1

 populations over time (T. 
Bremicker, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in litt. 1994; S. 
Fritts, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in litt. 1994).
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    \1\ Note: With respect to the lynx and the analysis presented in 
this document, the terms ``resident'' and ``resident population'' 
mean a group or subgroup of lynx in an area (e.g., Minnesota) or 
portion of a larger area (e.g., Great Lakes States) that is capable 
of long-term persistence, based on self-sustaining reproduction of 
young and successful recruitment of young into the breeding age 
cohort, without immigration of lynx from Canada. It is acknowledged 
that movements of lynx across the United States and Canada border 
did occur and that this migration was beneficial to the lynx in the 
contiguous United States.
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    Based on the majority view of the respondents and the best 
scientific and commercial data available, the Service has determined 
that, historically, the Canada lynx was a resident species in 16 States 
in the contiguous United States, occurring in dispersed populations at 
relatively low densities (Rust 1946; Harger 1965; Nellis 1971; 
Henderson 1978; Brocke 1982; Mccord and Cardoza 1982; Brainerd 1985; 
Washington Department of Wildlife 1993; Koehler and Aubry 1994; Kurta 
1995; T. Bailey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in litt. 1994; E. 
Bangs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1994; P. Beir, 
Northern Arizona University, in litt. 1994; B. Berg, Minnesota 
Department of Natural Resources, pers. comm. 1994; P. Brussard, 
University of Nevada, in litt. 1994; G. Koehler, Independent 
Researcher, in litt. 1994; W. Krohn, University of Maine, in litt. 
1994; J. Weaver, Independent Researcher, in litt. 1994). Furthermore, 
the historic and current presence of snowshoe hare populations, the 
lynx's primary food, within the same ecosystems in the contiguous 
United States (Adams 1959; Keener 1971; Dolbeer and Clark 1975; Buehler 
and Keith 1982; Fuller and Heisey 1986; Monthey 1986; Koehler 1991) 
supports the Service's conclusion.
    The Service considers Canada lynx to have been historically 
resident within Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, 
Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,

[[Page 36996]]

Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado.
    While evidence suggests historical lynx numbers in the contiguous 
United States increased because of dispersal from lynx populations in 
northern latitudes during the cyclic peaks (Henderson 1978, Mech 1980), 
the Service does not conclude that dispersal from Canada was required 
to maintain the contiguous United States lynx population as viable. 
However, dispersal of Canada lynx into the contiguous United States may 
now be necessary to replenish lynx numbers because of the current 
status of lynx in the contiguous United States. In addition, the 
Service concludes that suitable Canada lynx habitat currently exists 
(and existed to a greater extent historically) in the contiguous United 
States (Rust 1946; Harger 1965; Nellis 1971; Washington Department of 
Wildlife 1993; Henderson 1978; B. Giddings, Montana Department of Fish, 
Wildlife, and Parks, in litt. 1994; S. Parren, Vermont Department of 
Fish and Wildlife, pers. comm. 1994; F. Hurley, in litt. 1994; and K. 
Staley, White Mountain National Forest, pers. comm. 1994).

Distribution and Status

    Within the contiguous United States, the lynx population is divided 
regionally by ecological barriers consisting of unsuitable lynx 
habitat. These regions are the Northeast, the Great Lakes, and the 
Rocky Mountains/Cascades. To enhance the organization and clarity of 
this proposal, the regions are discussed separately below.
    Northeast Region--Historically, lynx habitat in the Northeast 
United States existed in a mostly contiguous block of forest in the 
ecotone between boreal and deciduous forest. This forest has been 
described as sub-boreal forest (M. Hunter, University of Maine, pers. 
comm. 1994). Principal tree species include red spruce (Picea rubens) 
and balsam fir (Abies balsamea), interspersed with northern hardwoods 
such as sugar maple (Acer saccharum), yellow birch (Betula 
alleghaniensis), and American beech (Fagus grandifolia). Lynx once 
occurred from northern Maine, across northern New Hampshire and 
Vermont, to the Adirondacks in New York (McCord and Cardoza 1982) and 
probably occurred southward along the higher elevations of the mountain 
ranges in the region (Brocke 1982; K. Gustafson, New Hampshire 
Department of Fish and Game, pers. comm. 1994). Unfortunately, in 
records compiled prior to the 1970's, lynx were often not distinguished 
from bobcats (J. Cardoza, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and 
Wildlife, pers. comm. 1994).
    Snowshoe hare habitat in the region is characterized by spruce/fir 
softwood forests typical of boreal forests; a mixture of mature and 
successional softwood growth provides cover and browse for hares 
(Monthey 1986). Forested habitat in the region has increased because of 
land-use changes during the past century (Irland 1982, Litvaitis 1993). 
In some areas, there may be a gradual upward trend in the coniferous 
component as spruce and fir regenerate beneath the hardwood species 
that had established after large-scale logging and burning at the turn 
of the century (D. Degraff, U.S. Forest Service, pers. comm. 1994; F. 
Hurley, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in litt. 
1994; J. Lanier, New Hampshire Fish and Game, pers. comm. 1994). 
Although localized habitat conditions have improved, reoccupation of 
these areas may be impeded by barriers to lynx immigration, such as 
paved roads with high-volume traffic, nonforested agricultural 
habitats, or other intervening areas of unsuitable habitat.
    Although Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York report areas 
of suitable lynx habitat and/or prey base, low numbers of lynx are 
present only in Maine and lynx may be extirpated throughout the 
remainder of the Northeast Region (see discussion below). Much of the 
potential lynx habitat in this region is held in private ownership 
(Harper et al. 1990).
    Maine--In Maine, historical accounts indicate that, although lynx 
probably were never abundant, they were resident in the State and that 
numbers of lynx fluctuated over the past 150 years (Maine Department of 
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in litt. 1997). Information on 
population size, trends, distribution, and factors influencing these 
variables are sparse and mostly anecdotal (F. Hurley, in litt. 1994). 
Lynx were bountied in Maine prior to the closure of hunting and 
trapping seasons in 1967.
    Suitable habitat and prey to support lynx are abundant in 
northwestern Maine (F. Hurley, in litt. 1994). The Maine Department of 
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife classifies the lynx as a species of 
special concern (Matula 1997). The lynx is currently protected from 
hunting and trapping.
    Although no reliable population estimates exist, in 1994 it was 
suggested that only 200 animals or less occur statewide (Maine 
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife 1994). A statewide track 
survey, initiated during the 1994/1995 winter was conducted for 3 
successive years. A total of 4,118, 1-km (0.62-mi) transects were 
surveyed. Lynx were encountered on 54 of the transects in nine 
townships, all during the first year of the survey (Maine Department of 
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in litt. 1997). However, biologists have 
encountered lynx tracks in northwestern Maine during the past three 
winters while conducting unrelated fieldwork (Maine Department of 
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in litt., 1998). The Service concludes a 
resident lynx population exists in Maine.
    New Hampshire--Lynx were intermittently bountied in New Hampshire 
until 1965. In response to the apparent declines in lynx abundance 
reflected in bounty numbers, the bounty was repealed and thereafter the 
lynx was provided full protection from legal harvest (Siegler 1971; 
Silver 1974; Litvaitis et al. 1991). Despite legal protection, the lynx 
population did not increase. Since 1980, the lynx has been listed as an 
endangered species by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Two 
years of winter track surveys did not detect Canada lynx (Litvaitis et 
al. 1991). The Service concludes the Canada lynx is very rare and 
likely extirpated from New Hampshire.
    Vermont--In Vermont, historically, lynx likely occurred at low 
densities in the northern part of the State. Quantitative data on the 
current abundance or distribution of lynx are unavailable. By the mid-
1900's, Vermont had not had a documented breeding population of lynx 
for several decades (Osgood 1938 in Vermont Department of Fish and 
Wildlife 1987). Since 1972 the lynx has been listed by the State as 
endangered. One of the last verified occurrences of lynx in the State 
occurred in 1968, with periodic reports since then. Suitable habitat 
exists in the northeastern section and along mountain ridges in the 
State, and snowshoe hares are present in high numbers (S. Parren, 
Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, pers. comm. 1994; C. Groves, 
Green Mountain National Forest, pers. comm. 1994). Canada lynx is 
currently considered to be extirpated in Vermont (S. Parren, pers. 
comm. 1998). The Service concludes the Canada lynx is very rare and 
likely extirpated from Vermont.
    New York State--Historically, lynx occurred in most northern 
regions of New York, the Adirondack Mountains, and the Catskill 
Mountains (K. Gustafson, pers. comm. 1994), but they are now considered 
extirpated (G. Parsons, New York State Department of Environmental 
Conservation, in litt. 1994). By the 1880's, the population was

[[Page 36997]]

apparently approaching extirpation (Miller 1899 in Brocke 1982). 
Trapping and sighting records from the early 1900's to the present 
indicate that lynx occurred only infrequently. The most recent verified 
sighting was in 1980 (G. Parsons, in litt. 1994). An abundant prey base 
exists (Brocke 1982), but the habitat has been highly fragmented. 
Extensive road infrastructure and a lack of early successional 
coniferous forest in much of the potential habitat likely precludes 
natural lynx reestablishment in New York (G. Batchellor, New York State 
Department of Environmental Conservation, pers. comm. 1994; G. Parsons, 
in litt. 1994).
    An effort to reintroduce Canada lynx into the Adirondack Mountains 
occurred from 1988 to 1990 (Brocke et al. 1990, D. Major, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1998), but success of the reintroduction 
remains doubtful. As of 1993, some Canada lynx were believed still 
present, but no reproduction had been documented (K. Gustafson, pers. 
comm. 1994). A collared lynx from the reintroduction effort was 
recently found near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (M. Amaral, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1997). No verified occurrences in New 
York have been reported recently; however, both the State University of 
New York at Syracuse and the New York Department of Environmental 
Conservation maintain records of reported sightings. No further 
monitoring is planned. In New York, lynx are legally classified as a 
small game species with a closed season. The Service concludes the 
Canada lynx is very rare and probably extirpated from New York.
    Pennsylvania/Massachusetts--In Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, 
located at the southernmost reaches of the historical range of the 
species in the Northeast United States (Hall and Kelson 1959), resident 
animals may have existed in the coniferous forests of higher elevations 
of mountain ranges, but accurate historical information is unavailable. 
Based on the lack of lynx habitat in these States, historically the 
animal was probably uncommon (J. Belfonti, in litt. 1994). Many 
individuals in these States may have dispersed from more northern 
regions during cyclic irruptions of the lynx populations in Canada (J. 
Belfonti, The Nature Conservancy, in litt. 1994). The last known record 
of a naturally occurring Canada lynx in Pennsylvania was in 1923 (J. 
Belfonti, in litt. 1994), and a possible record from 1930 exists for 
Massachusetts (J. Cardoza, in litt. 1994). The Service concludes lynx 
are extirpated from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
    Great Lakes Region--Historically the lynx was found in the western 
Great Lakes States of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The habitat 
occupied by lynx in this region consists primarily of an ecotone 
between boreal and mixed deciduous forest and is a mosaic of balsam 
fir, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), eastern white pine (Pinus 
strobus), jack pine (P. banksiana), quaking aspen (Populus 
tremuloides), birch (Betula spp.), and maple (Acer spp.) (Barbour et 
al. 1980). Much of the lynx habitat in this region is in public 
ownership, primarily county, State, or national forests.
    The lynx population in this region was regularly supplemented by 
dispersing lynx from Canada (Harger 1965; M. DonCarlos, in litt. 1994; 
C. Pils, in litt. 1994). Historically, Ontario and Manitoba had very 
strong, cyclic lynx populations from which individuals dispersed to 
search for food during periods when the hare populations crashed or 
during cyclic highs of lynx populations. However, trapping harvests 
during the period of extremely high pelt prices in the 1970's and 
1980's substantially impacted Canadian lynx populations. As a result, 
harvest was closed temporarily and since has been closely regulated (I. 
McKay, Manitoba Natural Resources, in litt. 1994; M. Novak, Ontario 
Ministry of Natural Resources, pers. comm. 1994). Because of low 
numbers of lynx, Manitoba closed its season on lynx harvest from 1995 
to 1997 (I. McKay, pers. comm. 1997). Although current habitat 
conditions along the Canada/United States border for lynx are mostly 
intact and suitable, dispersal into the Great Lakes States has been 
severely limited because of the reduced lynx population in Canada (D. 
Mech, pers comm. 1994; M. Novak, pers. comm. 1994).
    Minnesota--In the past, Minnesota lynx populations fluctuated 
markedly during 10-year cycles and were influenced by influxes from 
Canada (Henderson 1978; Mech 1980; M. DonCarlos, Minnesota Department 
of Natural Resources, in litt. 1994). The resident lynx population was 
restricted to the northeastern area of the State; however, transients 
have been found throughout Minnesota (Gunderson 1978; Mech 1980).
    Until 1965, lynx were bountied in Minnesota. In 1976, the lynx was 
classified as a game species and harvest seasons were established (M. 
DonCarlos, in litt. 1994). Harvest and bounty records for the State are 
available since 1930. Based on these records, highs in the lynx cycle 
were approximated to have occurred in 1940, 1952, 1962, and 1973 
(Henderson 1978). Henderson (1978) estimated that during a 47-year 
period (1930-1976), the Minnesota lynx harvest was substantial, ranging 
from at least 50 to more than 200 per year during 29 seasons.
    From the mid-1970's to the late 1980's, pelt prices were extremely 
high in Canada and the United States. Also, from 1979 to 1980, hare 
numbers were at their cyclic peak (M. DonCarlos, in litt. 1994). 
Despite these two factors, lynx harvest remained very low and the 
expected lynx peak for the early 1980's did not occur (B. Berg, pers. 
comm. 1994; M. DonCarlos, in litt. 1994). As a result, the harvest 
season was closed and remains closed today. Although lynx are currently 
considered rare (D. Mech, pers. comm. 1994), available habitat in 
northern Minnesota is capable of maintaining resident lynx populations 
(M. DonCarlos, in litt. 1994). Based on recent anecdotal information, 
the Service concludes that a resident population possibly exists in 
Minnesota (P. Burke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1998).
    Wisconsin--A resident lynx population likely has not existed in 
Wisconsin since 1900 (Thiel 1987). The presence of lynx in Wisconsin 
has been associated with the cyclic lynx population fluctuations in 
Canada (Thiel 1987). A bounty on lynx existed until 1957. Between 1948 
and 1956, 19 lynx were harvested in the State; annual harvest ranged 
from zero (1954) to four (1952) (Wisconsin Department of Natural 
Resources 1993). Lynx were placed on the protected species list in 1957 
and were classified as State endangered in 1972 (C. Pils, in litt. 
1994). Between 1976 and 1984, 63 lynx observations were reported, with 
most reports from the northwestern area adjacent to Minnesota; seven 
lynx were reported from 1991-1993, two of which were mortalities 
(Wydeven 1992; Wydeven 1993; Wydeven in prep.; C. Pils, in litt. 1994). 
There were no sightings of lynx in 1994 or 1995 and one possible set of 
tracks was sighted in 1996 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in litt. 
1997). Snowshoe hares occur across northern Wisconsin (Buehler and 
Keith 1982). Potential lynx habitat in northern Wisconsin has remained 
in an early- to mid-successional mixed coniferous forest condition 
since the early 1900's, with some limited older growth present but 
primarily confined to forested wetlands (D. Zastrow, Wisconsin 
Department of Natural Resources, pers. comm. 1998). The lynx has been 
reclassified as a State protected species with a closed season (A. 
Wydeven, Wisconsin Department of Natural

[[Page 36998]]

Resources, pers. comm. 1998). Despite extensive review of historic and 
current information regarding the lynx in Wisconsin, neither Jackson 
(1961) nor Thiel (1987) were able to cite any evidence of breeding 
subsequent to the decline of the species in the 1800's. There has been 
a continued decline in confirmed sightings in recent years and the 
Service concludes that, based on available information, a resident 
population of lynx no longer exists in Wisconsin, although individual 
animals likely are present.
    Michigan--In Michigan, historical reports indicate that the Canada 
lynx was resident and widespread throughout the upper and lower 
peninsula in the 19th century (Harger 1965). Lynx moved into the upper 
peninsula from Wisconsin or crossed the St. Mary's River from Ontario 
(Baker 1983). The limited ability for lynx dispersal from the upper to 
the lower peninsula, in addition to positive records of lynx in 23 
lower peninsula counties, indicated that in the lower peninsula, Canada 
lynx were self-sustaining in the past (Harger 1965; Baker 1983). Canada 
lynx were believed extirpated from Michigan's lower peninsula in 1928, 
and by 1938 they were considered rare or extinct throughout the State 
(Harger 1965). The lynx persisted on Isle Royale in Lake Superior into 
the late 1970's (Peterson 1977 in Baker 1983). Based on the numbers and 
distribution of lynx reported from 1940 to 1965, particularly during 
1962, Harger (1965) believed that lynx were repopulating Michigan as a 
result of improved habitat conditions in the upper peninsula.
    The lynx was first listed as State endangered in 1974, but was not 
included on the list during revisions in 1976 and 1980. It was returned 
to the list as threatened in 1983 and its status upgraded to endangered 
in 1987, where it remains. As such, it is protected from harvest but 
conservation actions are limited because little is known about the 
species requirements (T. Weise, in litt. 1994).
    Throughout the 1980's and 1990's, reports of lynx in the upper 
peninsula of Michigan have been rare; no lynx have been reported in the 
lower peninsula during this time period (T. Weise, Michigan Department 
of Natural Resources, in litt. 1994). The lynx's current distribution 
in Michigan is unknown but is likely limited to the upper peninsula. No 
surveys have been conducted to determine lynx numbers or range (T. 
Weise, in litt. 1994). The last breeding record was in 1976 (T. Weise, 
in litt. 1994). Suitable lynx habitat is currently available in 
Michigan's upper peninsula (T. Weise, in litt. 1994). Since the mid-
1960's the trend of lynx numbers has been unknown. However, the Service 
concludes that low numbers of lynx may still occur in Michigan's upper 
peninsula with no increasing trend apparent.
    Rocky Mountain/Cascades Region--Lynx currently are thought to be 
present in the western mountains of the contiguous United States in the 
Cascades Range of Washington, the Thompson-Okanogan Highlands of 
northern Washington, the Blue Mountains of Oregon, and the Rocky 
Mountains in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
    Lynx habitat in Montana occurs primarily in the high elevation 
mountains. Principal tree species include lodgepole pine (Pinus 
contorta), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and subalpine fir 
(Abies lasiocarpa) (Koehler et al. 1979, Hash 1990). In Washington, 
lynx live in boreal-type forests that occur in north central Washington 
along the east slope of the Cascade Mountain range and the Thompson-
Okanogan Highlands. In Oregon, lynx habitat exists in the Blue 
Mountains in northeastern Oregon and the Cascades. Preferred lynx 
habitat in Idaho consists of dense coniferous, high elevation forest 
broken by small shrubby openings and coniferous swamps (Leptich 1990). 
Unsuitable habitat in Wyoming's Red Desert isolates the lynx population 
in Colorado and extreme southeastern Wyoming from that of the Rocky 
Mountains to the northwest (Thompson and Halfpenny 1989; Koehler and 
Aubry 1994). Colorado's montane and subalpine forest ecosystems are 
naturally highly fragmented (Findley and Anderson 1956 in Koehler and 
Aubry 1994, Thompson 1994). Utah is considered the southern margin of 
the Canada lynx range.
    Washington--In Washington, resident Canada lynx were historically 
found in highest concentrations in the northeast and north central 
regions, along the east slope of the Cascade Mountains (Washington 
Department of Wildlife 1993). Nellis (1971) regarded lynx occurrence in 
Washington as rare to common. Records of lynx exist from the Mount 
Rainier National Park area in the central Cascades, south in the 
Cascades nearly to the Oregon border on Mount Adams, and in the Blue 
Mountains in the southeastern part of the State (Taylor and Shaw 1927 
in Koehler and Aubry 1994, Dalquest 1948, Washington Department of 
Natural Resources 1996a). Washington has designated six ``Lynx 
Management Zones'' across north central Washington (Washington 
Department of Natural Resources 1996a). Currently, lynx occupy five of 
these zones: Okanogan, Kettle Range, the Wedge, Little Pend Oreille, 
and Salmo Priest. Additionally, lynx occupy the northern and southern 
Cascades of Washington (Washington Department of Natural Resources 
1996a; C. Lee, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1998). Much 
of these areas are in Federal, Tribal, and State ownership.
    A total harvest of 215 lynx was reported for the hunting and 
trapping seasons from 1960-61 to 1990-91, with peak harvests in 1969-70 
(31 lynx) and 1976-77 (39 lynx) (Washington Department of Wildlife 
1993). Following the 1976-77 season, lynx harvests decreased markedly, 
resulting in increasingly restrictive harvest regulations. Based on 
trapper interviews and track sighting, lynx densities in northeastern 
Washington appear to have been depressed during at least the past 20 
years (Washington Department of Wildlife 1993). In response to markedly 
decreased harvests, regulations were tightened in 1977-78; lynx hunting 
and trapping seasons were closed in 1991 (Washington Department of 
Wildlife 1993).
    The current lynx population in the State of Washington has been 
estimated at 96 to 191 individuals (Washington Department of Wildlife 
1993). Brittell et al. (1989) estimated 225 lynx in Washington State. 
However, population estimates may be high because it was assumed that 
habitat suitability and lynx densities were similar across the range, 
which is not the case (Washington Department of Wildlife 1993). Since 
1993, the lynx has been listed as a State threatened species 
(Washington Department of Wildlife 1993). The Service concludes that a 
resident lynx population exists in the State of Washington.
    Oregon--Resident Canada lynx populations were historically low in 
Oregon (Koehler and Aubry 1994). Historic records exist from nine 
counties in Oregon (Bailey 1936, Nellis 1971). Recent observations of 
lynx have been reported from the Cascades and the Blue Mountains in 
northeastern Oregon (Csuti et al. 1997; E. Gaines, Oregon Natural 
Heritage Program, in litt. 1994; R. Anderson, Wallowa-Whitman National 
Forest, in litt. 1998). The Canada lynx is currently classified as a 
furbearer with a closed trapping and hunting season (E. Gaines, Oregon 
Natural Heritage Program, pers. comm. 1997). The Service concludes that 
a self-sustaining resident population does not exist in Oregon, but 
individual animals are present.

[[Page 36999]]

    Idaho--According to Rust (1946), lynx were distributed throughout 
northern Idaho in the early 1940's, occurring in 8 of the 10 northern 
and north-central counties. In 1990, Hash reported stable or declining 
small lynx populations in Idaho. Harvest records were unreliable prior 
to the late 1980's because no distinction was made between lynx and 
large bobcats. In 1982, Idaho Department of Fish and Game initiated a 
mandatory pelt tagging program and the number of reported lynx harvests 
dropped to zero. Twelve lynx were reported harvested between 1978 and 
1991 (M. Tera-Berns, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, pers. comm. 
1997). No current population estimates are available (P. Harrington, 
U.S. Forest Service, pers. comm. 1994; J. Hayden, Idaho Department of 
Fish and Game, pers. comm. 1994). Recent confirmed lynx reports are 
scarce (J. Conley, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, in litt. 1994).
    Prior to 1977, the species was considered a predator, subject to 
unrestricted harvest with no closed season and no bag limit. In 1990, 
in response to concern over the status of lynx in Idaho, the Idaho 
Department of Fish and Game instituted a statewide harvest quota of 
three lynx per year. Idaho closed the Canada lynx trapping/hunting 
season in the 1997/1998 season because the quota had not been filled in 
several years, although lynx remain classified as a furbearer. In 1995, 
a multiple agency Conservation Strategy was initiated to assess the 
conservation of the lynx and other forest carnivores (Idaho Department 
of Fish and Game et al. 1995; Roloff 1995). The Service concludes that 
a self-sustaining resident population does not exist in Idaho, but 
individual animals are present.
    Montana--In Montana, Canada lynx were reported to be common (Nellis 
1971) and were found throughout the western part of the State (B. 
Giddings, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, in litt. 
1994). After 1985, lynx populations in Montana were believed to be at 
or near their lowest levels in the past several decades (Hash 1990). 
Brainerd (1985) documented evidence of Canada lynx reproduction; 
however, more recent evidence of recruitment into the population has 
not been documented.
    Until 1977, lynx in Montana were classified as nongame and were 
provided no regulatory protection (D. Childress, Montana Department of 
Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, in litt. 1990). Assessment of historic 
population levels or trends is difficult because lynx often were not 
distinguished from bobcats in harvest records prior to 1977. Between 
1959 and 1967, estimates of statewide harvest ranged from a low of 36 
in the 1961-62 season to a high of 376 during the 1963-64 season 
(Hoffman et al. 1969). However, these figures likely overestimate lynx 
abundance because they probably include bobcats. Since 1985, harvest 
records exist from 24 counties in the northwest, southwest, and west-
central part of the State (B. Giddings, in litt. 1994). Hoffman et al. 
(1969) cited numerous records of lynx harvested in eastern Montana's 
Great Plains region between 1959 and 1967, but these records are 
suspect because of possible misidentification with bobcat.
    Beginning in 1977, lynx were classified as a furbearer. A season 
length and licensing regulations were set, but no quota was imposed. 
Harvest records can reflect the status of lynx populations; however, 
the lynx harvest and, consequently, the lynx population likely were 
significantly influenced by extremely high pelt prices during the mid-
1970's to late 1980's.
    Since 1977, Montana's highest lynx harvest occurred in both 1979 
and 1984 when 62 lynx were taken in each season (B. Giddings, in litt. 
1994). Although quotas dropped incrementally from 135 to 40 over an 8-
year period (1982-1989), lynx harvest never approached the quota 
levels, ranging from 62 to 15 animals taken per season (B. Giddings, in 
litt. 1994). After 1985, lynx harvests declined to record lows and lynx 
populations in Montana were believed to be at or near their lowest 
levels in the past several decades (Hash 1990). In response, a district 
of the Montana Trappers Association requested that lynx harvest be 
closed for one season (S. Conn, Montana Trappers Association, in litt. 
1990). The State responded by decreasing the quota from 40 to 5 in 1990 
(B. Giddings, in litt. 1994). During this period, the lowest annual 
harvest occurred in 1990, with two lynx taken while the quota was five 
(B. Giddings, in litt. 1994). From 1991 to the present, the quota has 
been two, which was filled annually or exceeded by one (1991) or two 
(1993) (B. Giddings, in litt. 1994).
    The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks estimated the 
lynx population as 1,750 to 2,400 in 1977, 700 to 950 in 1982, and 
1,040 lynx in 1994 (B. Giddings, in litt. 1994). These estimates were 
determined using a habitat area/density index. Habitat area estimates 
did not account for habitat areas that would be unsuitable for lynx.
    Harvest records, winter track surveys conducted since 1990-91, and 
trapper logbooks, have led Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and 
Parks to conclude that the State's lynx population has recovered and is 
distributed across its historic range (B. Giddings, in litt. 1994). 
However, others familiar with lynx in the Rocky Mountain region suggest 
that these estimates are optimistic, and express serious concerns about 
the status of lynx in Montana (E. Bangs, pers. comm. 1994; M. 
Hornocker, Hornocker Wildlife Research Institute, Inc., in litt. 1994; 
G. Koehler, in litt. 1994; L. Nordstrom, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, in litt. 1994; M. Roy and S. Torbit, National Wildlife 
Federation, in litt. 1994). The Service concludes a resident population 
of lynx is present in Montana.
    Wyoming--In Wyoming, Canada lynx are generally believed to have 
been uncommon in the State because of the limited availability of large 
areas of suitable habitat (Reeve et al. 1986; Clark and Stromberg 1987; 
Wyoming Game and Fish Department 1992). Until 1957, lynx were bountied 
in the State. Since 1973, the lynx has been listed as a protected 
nongame species. Nearly all historical and recent records of lynx in 
Wyoming are from the western mountain ranges, primarily within the 
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Reeve et al. 1986). However, documented 
reports of lynx in Yellowstone National Park are rare (S. Consolo-
Murphy, Yellowstone National Park, pers. comm. 1994). Elsewhere in 
Wyoming, lynx have been reported from the Uinta Mountains in the 
extreme southwest and the Big Horn Mountains in the north-central part 
of the State, although these are unconfirmed by field investigations 
(Reeve et al. 1986).
    Only 12 records of lynx exist for Wyoming from 1981 to 1994 (C. 
Gillin, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, in litt. 1994). In late 1996 
the Wyoming Game and Fish Department began a study to attempt to 
document the current range of the lynx. Two lynx have been trapped and 
collared in the Wyoming Range and continue to be tracked (B. Oakleaf, 
Wyoming Game and Fish Department, pers. comm. 1998). In addition, one 
lynx was confirmed in the Wind River Range in 1997 (B. Luce, Wyoming 
Game and Fish, pers. comm. 1997).
    If lynx exist in southeastern Wyoming, they are isolated from the 
rest of the State by the Red Desert but are contiguous with Colorado 
lynx populations (J. Fitzgerald, University of Northern Colorado, pers. 
comm. 1994; J. Halfpenny, Independent Researcher, pers. comm. 1994; J. 
Weaver, pers. comm. 1994). None of the reports of lynx in the Medicine 
Bow and Laramie ranges in southeastern Wyoming have been confirmed to 
date (Reeve et al. 1986). The Service concludes that,

[[Page 37000]]

although individual lynx are present, a resident population likely no 
longer exists in Wyoming.
    Utah--In Utah, Canada lynx are thought to be nearly extirpated, 
although it is possible a few may exist in the high, inaccessible areas 
of the Uinta Mountains (B. Blackwell, Utah Department of Natural 
Resources, pers. comm. 1994). Sightings have been reported from most of 
the mountain ranges in Utah. However, because of misidentification with 
the bobcat, some of these records may not be valid (McKay 1991). Nearly 
all the reliable lynx reports are from the Uinta Mountain Range along 
the Wyoming border (McKay 1991). The lynx is listed as a State 
sensitive species. The Service concludes that a self-sustaining 
resident population does not exist in Utah, but individual animals may 
be present.
    Colorado--Colorado represents the extreme southern edge of the 
range of the Canada lynx. Wyoming's Red Desert likely acts as a barrier 
that reduces or precludes opportunities for immigration and emigration, 
effectively isolating lynx in the southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado 
and Wyoming (Halfpenny et al. 1982; Koehler and Aubry 1994; G. Koehler, 
in litt. 1994; J. Weaver, in litt. 1994). It is likely Canada lynx 
never have been abundant in Colorado (Colorado Division of Wildlife et 
al. 1997), partially because its montane and subalpine forest 
ecosystems are naturally highly fragmented (Thompson 1994).
    The lynx has been listed as a State endangered species since 1976 
(Colorado Division of Wildlife et al. 1997). From the late 1800's to 
1993, only 65 reliable lynx records exist; the last verified lynx 
specimens were taken in the early 1970's (J. Sheppard, Colorado 
Division of Wildlife, in litt. 1994). Since the late 1970's, intensive 
surveying efforts have revealed only minimal evidence of lynx presence 
(Halfpenny and Miller 1981; Thompson and Halfpenny 1989; Anderson 1990; 
Thompson and Halfpenny 1991; Andrews 1992; Carney 1993; Fitzgerald 
1994; J. Sheppard, in litt. 1994; J. Halfpenny, pers. comm. 1994; 
Colorado Division of Wildlife et al. 1997). Lynx in Colorado are 
believed to be extremely rare and the long-term viability of the lynx 
in Colorado is questionable (Colorado Division of Wildlife et al. 
1997). The Service concludes that a self-sustaining resident population 
does not exist in Colorado, but individual animals may be present.
    Other Reports or Sightings--Lynx observations in Nevada, North 
Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, and Virginia 
appear to be a result of transients dispersing during periods of high 
lynx density elsewhere (Hall and Kelson 1959; Burt 1954 in Brocke 1982; 
S. Johnson, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, in litt. 1994; P. 
Jones, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in litt. 1994; W. Jobman, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in litt. 1997; Smithsonian Institute, 
in litt. 1998). During the early 1960's, lynx moved into the Great 
Plains and the Midwest region of the United States during an apparent 
cyclic high in surrounding lynx populations (Gunderson 1978; Mech 1980; 
DeStefano 1987; South Dakota Natural Heritage Program, in litt. 1994). 
Based on the lynx's ecological requirements, such records likely 
represent dispersing, transient individuals, not resident populations.
    Summary of Status--Based on information available to the Service at 
this time, the Service concludes that lynx were resident in 16 States 
in the contiguous United States. Currently, resident populations of 
lynx likely exist in Maine, Montana, Washington, and possibly 
Minnesota. States with recent records of individual lynx sightings, but 
possibly no longer sustaining self-supporting populations, include 
Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. Lynx 
may be extirpated from New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, 
and Massachusetts.

Previous Federal Action

    The Canada lynx was added to Appendix II of the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna in 
1977. The Service classified the Canada lynx as a category 2 candidate 
species in the December 30, 1982, Vertebrate Notice of Review (47 FR 
58454). Category 2 species were those species for which information in 
the Service's possession indicated that listing was possibly 
appropriate, but for which substantive data on biological vulnerability 
and threats were not available to support a proposed rule. Candidate 
species are currently defined as those species for which the Service 
has sufficient information on file detailing biological vulnerability 
and threats to support issuance of a proposed rule, but issuance of the 
proposed rule is precluded by other listing actions. On October 6, 
1992, the Service published a notice of a 90-day petition finding 
indicating that the August 22, 1991 petition did not present 
substantial information to indicate that listing the North Cascades 
population of the Canada lynx as endangered was warranted (57 FR 
46007). A lawsuit was filed challenging the October 6, 1992, petition 
finding. On July 9, 1993, the Service published a notice indicating 
that it had revisited the North Cascades 90-day petition after 
receiving new information and again found that there was not 
substantial information to indicate that listing the population may be 
warranted (58 FR 36924). The Service announced in the finding that a 
status review would be conducted. In a settlement agreement dated 
November 30, 1993, the Service agreed to conduct a status review 
throughout the lower 48 States to determine if the species was 
threatened or endangered, and to complete the review and publish the 
finding by November 15, 1994. On February 2, 1994, the Service 
published a notice (59 FR 4887) announcing continuation of the status 
review that was initiated in 1982.
    On April 27, 1994, the Service received a petition to list the 
coterminous United States population of ``North American'' lynx as 
threatened or endangered. Additionally, the petitioners requested that 
the southern Rocky Mountain population of the ``North American'' lynx 
in Wyoming and Colorado be emergency listed. A notice was published on 
August 26, 1994 (59 FR 44123), indicating that the petition presented 
substantial information that listing may be warranted, but that there 
was not substantial information to indicate that emergency listing may 
be warranted for the Southern Rocky Mountain population.
    On December 27, 1994, the Service published a notice (59 FR 66507) 
of its 12-month finding as to the status of the Canada lynx in the 48 
contiguous States, as directed by the settlement agreement and the 
petition, that listing was not warranted because of the lack of 
residency of lynx populations in the lower 48 States and the Service's 
inability to substantiate that threats such as ``trapping, hunting, 
poaching, and present habitat destruction'' actually ``threaten the 
continued existence of the lynx in the wild.'' On January 30, 1996, the 
Defenders of Wildlife and 14 other plaintiffs challenged the Service's 
finding by filing a lawsuit.
    On March 27, 1997, the U.S. District Court (District of Columbia) 
issued an order setting aside the not warranted finding and remanded it 
to the Service for further consideration. The Service was ordered to 
publish a 12-month finding on the status of the lynx within 60 days. On 
May 27, 1997, the Service published a 12-month petition finding (62 FR 
28653) that the Canada lynx population in the contiguous United States 
was warranted for listing under

[[Page 37001]]

the Act but precluded by higher priority listing actions. This 
warranted but precluded finding automatically elevated the Canada lynx 
to candidate species status. Candidate species are defined as those 
species for which the Service has sufficient information on file 
detailing biological vulnerability and threats to support issuance of a 
proposed rule, but issuance of the proposed rule is precluded by other 
listing actions.
    On September 15, 1997, Defenders of Wildlife, et al. filed suit 
against the Service in the U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 
arguing that the Service violated the Act in finding that listing the 
Canada lynx population in the contiguous United States was warranted 
but precluded. On December 22, 1997, the court denied the plaintiffs' 
motion to enforce judgement against the Service's May 1997 warranted 
but precluded finding for the Canada lynx population in the contiguous 
United States. At the same time, the court set an expedited schedule 
and hearing date (March 18, 1998) for the lawsuit filed in September 
1997.
    On February 12, 1998, the U.S. District Court approved a settlement 
agreement between the Service and the Plaintiffs that called for the 
Service to publish a proposed rule to list the Canada lynx in the 
contiguous United States by June 30, 1998. This proposed rule for the 
contiguous United States population of the Canada lynx fulfills the 
requirement of the settlement agreement and serves as the final 12-
month warranted finding on the petitions to list the lynx.
    Processing of this proposed rule conforms with the Service's 
Listing Priority Guidance for Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999, published on 
May 8, 1998 (63 FR 25502). The guidance clarifies the order in which 
the Service will process rulemakings giving highest priority (Tier 1) 
to processing emergency rules to add species to the Lists of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists); second priority (Tier 2) to 
processing final determinations on proposals to add species to the 
Lists, processing new proposals to add species to the Lists, processing 
administrative findings on petitions (to add species to the Lists, 
delist species, or reclassify listed species), and processing a limited 
number of proposed or final rules to delist or reclassify species; and 
third priority (Tier 3) to processing proposed or final rules 
designating critical habitat. Processing of this proposed rule is a 
Tier 2 action. At this time, this region has no pending Tier 1 actions 
and is progressing with work on Tier 2 actions. This proposed rule also 
conforms to earlier Service guidance on assignment of priorities to 
species under consideration for listing as endangered or threatened 
published in the Federal Register on September 21, 1983 (48 FR 43098). 
This guidance sets up a priority system from 1-12 based on immediacy 
and magnitude of threat and on species' taxonomy. In the Service's May 
1997 finding the lynx was elevated to candidate status and given a 
listing priority of 3.
    In accordance with the policy promulgated July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34270), the Service will solicit the opinions of independent Canada 
lynx experts and/or conservation biologists regarding the proposed 
rule. The purpose of such review is to ensure listing decisions are 
based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses, 
including input of appropriate experts and specialists. Peer reviewers 
will be identified through requests to research institutions, 
universities, and museums for individuals with recognized expertise 
with the subject matter. The reviewers will be asked to comment during 
the public comment period upon the specific assumptions and conclusions 
regarding the proposed listing and special rule. These comments will be 
considered in the preparation of the final rule as appropriate. In a 
status review of the lynx in 1994, prior to the publication of the 
Service's formal peer review policy, the Service solicited the comments 
of 31 independent experts and/or conservation biologists regarding the 
effects of cyclic Canada lynx movements from Canada to the contiguous 
United States. Of the 16 responses received, 9 respondents believed 
Canada lynx should be considered resident in portions of the contiguous 
United States, 1 did not (regarding the Great Lakes region only), and 6 
did not specifically respond to the questions.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and regulations (50 CFR part 424) promulgated 
to implement the listing provisions of the Act set forth the procedures 
for adding species to the Federal lists. A species may be determined to 
be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five 
factors described in section 4(a)(1). These factors and their 
application to the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) are discussed below.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    Since the mid-to-late 1800's, several habitat-related factors 
influenced, and continue to contribute to, declines in local or 
regional Canada lynx populations. The most influential factor affecting 
lynx habitat is human alteration of the distribution and abundance, 
species composition, successional stages, and connectivity of forests, 
and the resulting changes in the forests' capacity to sustain lynx 
populations. Additionally, forest fragmentation isolates habitat into 
relatively small patches, thereby reducing the viability of wildlife 
that are dependent on larger areas of forest habitat (Litvaitis and 
Harrison 1989).
    In all regions of the lynx range in the contiguous United States, 
timber harvest and its related activities are a predominant land use 
affecting lynx habitat. Forestry practices can be beneficial or 
detrimental for lynx depending on the method and timing by which they 
are conducted. Timber harvest can be used to achieve the early 
successional stages of forest preferred by snowshoe hares, although it 
takes time (15 years or more depending on the type of forest) for 
harvested areas to reach this stage (Monthey 1986, Quinn and Parker 
1987, Koehler 1990, Koehler and Brittell 1990, Washington Department of 
Wildlife 1993). For example, in the West, thinning (either single tree 
or group selection), if implemented in a well-planned harvest 
prescription, can hasten the development of late-successional forests 
containing structures such as downed woody debris for thermal and 
security cover and for denning; early thinning to maximize tree-growth 
potential can be compatible with snowshoe hare and lynx habitat needs 
provided that stands are thinned before snowshoe hares recolonize the 
area (Koehler and Aubry 1994).
    Intensive tree harvesting (e.g., large-scale clearcutting) can 
eliminate the mosaic of habitats necessary for Canada lynx survival, 
including late successional denning and early successional prey 
habitat. Specifically, these activities can result in reduced cover, 
unusable forest openings, and monotypic stands with a sparse understory 
that are unfavorable for Canada lynx and/or their prey (Brittell et al. 
1989; de Vos and Matel 1952; Harger 1965; Hatler 1988; Koehler 1990; K. 
Gustafson, pers. comm. 1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994). Canada lynx 
avoid openings such as clearcuts, unforested areas, and grasslands 
(Koehler et al. 1979; Koehler and Brittell 1990, Murray et al. 1994) 
and snowshoe hares are also unlikely to use such areas because of the 
lack of cover (Koehler et al. 1979; H. Golden, Alaska Department

[[Page 37002]]

of Fish and Game, pers. comm. 1994; Koehler and Aubry 1994).
Great Lakes and Northeast Region
    Softwoods that provided Canada lynx habitat were logged extensively 
during the late 1800's and early 1900's (Jackson 1961; Barbour et al. 
1980; Belcher 1980; Irland 1982). Over a relatively short period, 
timber extraction during this era resulted in the replacement of late-
successional conifer forest with extensive tracts of very early 
successional habitat and eliminated cover for lynx and hare (Jackson 
1961, Keener 1971). Coniferous forests also were cleared for 
agriculture during this period. In the Northeast Region, slash, 
accumulated during logging operations, fueled wildfires that burned 
vast acreages of softwood forest (Belcher 1980; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 
1994). This sudden alteration of habitat likely resulted in sharp 
declines in snowshoe hare numbers over large areas, subsequently 
reducing Canada lynx numbers (Jackson 1961; Keener 1971; K. Gustafson, 
pers. comm. 1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994).
    During these early periods of timber extraction in the Northeast 
and Great Lakes Regions, probable declines in Canada lynx numbers were 
concurrent with substantial increases in human populations and 
unregulated trapping in or near lynx habitat (K. Gustafson, pers. comm. 
1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994). By the turn of the century in the 
Northeast Region, historical records indicate that lynx populations 
were declining or were nearly extirpated (Silver 1974; Vermont 
Department of Fish and Game 1987; K. Gustafson, in litt. 1994; G. 
Parsons, in litt. 1994).
    The impacts of the logging conducted in the Northeast Region during 
the late 1800's continue to affect Canada lynx habitat. In Maine, 
softwood cover and dense sapling growth provided improved snowshoe hare 
habitat after timber harvest and fires in late successional forests 
(Monthey 1986). However, in the western sections of the Northeast 
Region, extensive tracts of predominantly softwood forests that were 
harvested and burned-over during the late 1800's and early 1900's were 
subsequently replaced with regenerating hardwoods (D. Degraff, pers. 
comm. 1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994). For a period of time, this 
extensive area would have been in the early successional habitat used 
by snowshoe hare. However, such extensive tracts did not provide the 
mosaic of forest habitats required by lynx and, as succession 
progressed, these tracts became unsuitable for both lynx and hare. 
Hardwood forests do not typically supply adequate cover for snowshoe 
hares (Monthey 1986). Additional declines in hare populations may have 
occurred during the 1940's and 1950's as a result of large-scale forest 
maturation (Litvaitis et al. 1991).
    In Maine, large tracts of forest (some as large as 36-square mile 
townships) were harvested in the 1960's to reduce the incidence of 
spruce budworm. Harvesting of these large tracts create a simplified, 
monotypic forest over large areas, not a mosaic of forest stands. 
Passage of the State Forestry Practices Act has required clearcut size 
to be substantially reduced.
    At higher elevations and northern latitudes in the Northeast, red 
spruce and balsam fir are important components of snowshoe hare 
habitat. Declines in red spruce forests have been documented, and 
drought, acid deposition, and other human-generated pollutants have 
been suggested as principal causes (Scott et al. 1984).
    Lynx populations have not increased in the Northeast Region despite 
some apparent improvements in habitat. Forested habitat in the 
Northeast has increased because of land-use changes during the past 
century (Irland 1982; Litvaitis 1993). In some areas there may be a 
gradual upward trend in the coniferous component as spruce and fir 
regenerate beneath hardwood species (D. Degraff, pers. comm. 1994). 
Several of the Northeast States support adequate, if not abundant, 
snowshoe hare populations (C. Grove, Green Mountain National Forest, 
pers. comm. 1994; F. Hurley, in litt. 1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 
1994).
    Isolation of suitable habitat and lack of immigration apparently 
remain important factors in the continued absence of lynx populations 
in the Northeast Region (Litvaitis et al. 1991; W. Krohn, University of 
Maine, in litt. 1994; R. Lafond, Quebec Department of Recreation, Fish, 
and Game, pers. comm. 1994). Historically, resident Canada lynx 
populations in the Northeast were periodically supplemented with 
transient or dispersing individuals from the north (Litvaitis et al. 
1991; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994). However, over the past several 
decades, Canada lynx numbers also declined in the southern portions of 
its range in Canada in response to overexploitation and clearing of 
forested habitat for agriculture, timber, and human settlement (Mills 
1990; McAlpine and Heward 1993; Quebec Department of Recreation, Fish, 
and Game, in litt. 1993). The fragmented landscape across southern 
Quebec probably presents a substantial barrier to lynx attempting to 
disperse southward across the St. Lawrence River (W. Krohn, in litt. 
1994; R. Lafond, pers. comm. 1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994; J. 
Litvaitis, University of New Hampshire, pers. comm. 1994). However, 
lynx from a resident population in a Quebec reserve south of the St. 
Lawrence should encounter little difficulty crossing into Maine (C. 
McLaughlin, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in litt. 
1998). Similarly, movement of lynx into Maine from occupied habitat in 
New Brunswick should be possible.
    Today, diminished numbers of Canada lynx in southern Canada and the 
paucity of functional dispersal routes from Canadian lynx populations 
have substantially restricted the opportunity for Canada lynx to 
recolonize suitable habitat in New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire 
(Litvaitis et al. 1991; W. Krohn, in litt. 1994; R. La Fond, pers. 
comm. 1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994).
    In 1990, the U.S. Forest Service published a report that examined 
the northern forest lands in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and 
Maine (Harper et al. 1990). The 26-million acre study area encompassed 
most of the historic range of lynx in the region. Eighty-four percent 
of northern forest lands in the region are currently privately owned 
and 16 percent are in public ownership, of which only 300,000 acres are 
federally owned. Commercial forestry continues to be the dominant land 
use on 60 percent of the private lands in the northern forests. The 
rapid pace of subdivision for recreation home sites has been identified 
as a serious concern to maintaining the integrity of Northeast forests 
(Harper et al. 1990).
    Habitat fragmentation from forestry management programs, 
agricultural conversions, and roadway construction may be limiting lynx 
in the Great Lakes States. However, insufficient information currently 
exists to assess the impact of these threats to lynx. Lynx habitat 
quality appeared to be increasing in Michigan's upper peninsula as of 
1965 (Harger 1965); however, as of 1998, lynx numbers have not 
increased in response to predicted improved habitat (Kurta 1995).
Rocky Mountain/Cascades Region
    The majority of Canada lynx habitat in the West occurs on public 
lands. Research linking forest management on Federal lands in the West 
to Canada lynx habitat requirements is minimal.
    In the interior Columbia River basin of eastern Washington and 
Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana, timber harvest patterns, along with 
the

[[Page 37003]]

exclusion of fire have converted much of the late successional stage 
forest to younger, mid-successional stage forests (U.S. Forest Service 
and Bureau of Land Management 1996). There has been an increase in 
fragmentation of forest lands and loss of connectivity within and 
between blocks of habitat, which has isolated some wildlife habitats 
and reduced the ability of some wildlife populations to move across the 
landscape (U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management 1997).
    In the Seeley-Swan Valley in northwestern Montana, the forest 
landscape has become increasingly fragmented since 1930, consisting of 
smaller, more numerous patches with more edge and less interior habitat 
(Hart 1994). Fragmentation was caused by an extensive network of 
highway and forest roads, timber harvest, and residential construction. 
Timber harvest replaced fire as the dominant disturbance process (Hart 
1994). Mature/overmature forests have declined in total area, while 
seedling and sapling seral stages have become more extensive (Hart 
1994). The amount of predicted lynx habitat in the Seeley-Swan Valley 
has declined 36 percent since 1930 and became more fragmented over time 
(Hart 1994).
    Recolonization of suitable lynx habitat within the State of 
Washington eventually may be precluded by the fragmentation of habitat 
and potential isolation from the lynx population in Canada (Washington 
Department of Wildlife 1993).
    Fire has played an important role in forest ecology in western 
mountain ranges of the United States. Forest fires naturally maintained 
mosaics of early successional forest stands, unburnt bogs and swamps, 
and late-successional conifer forest forming ideal snowshoe hare and 
Canada lynx habitat (Todd 1985; Fischer and Bradley 1987; Quinn and 
Parker 1987). During the early twentieth century, Federal and State 
agencies in the contiguous United States enacted a policy of 
suppressing forest fires. The lack of adequate hare habitat in southern 
latitudes may be partially a result of fire suppression during the past 
50 years (Koehler 1990). Suppression of forest fires in the West has 
allowed forests to mature, thereby reducing habitat suitability for 
snowshoe hares and Canada lynx (Brittell et al. 1989; Fox 1978; Koehler 
1990; Washington Department of Wildlife 1993; T. Bailey, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, in litt. 1994; H. Golden, pers. comm. 1994). Fire 
suppression is most likely affecting lynx habitat in areas where 
historical frequency of fires is shorter than the length of time fires 
have been suppressed in the Region (P. Stickney, U.S. Forest Service, 
pers. comm. 1994).
    In all regions of the contiguous United States lynx range, clearing 
of forests for urbanization, recreational developments such as ski 
areas, and agriculture has fragmented, degraded, or reduced the 
available suitable lynx habitat, reduced the prey base, and increased 
human disturbance and the likelihood of accidental trapping, shooting, 
or highway mortality (de Vos and Matel 1952; Harger 1965; Belcher 1980; 
Thiel 1987; Todd 1985; Thompson 1987; Harper et al. 1990; Brocke et al. 
1991; Thompson and Halfpenny 1991; Colorado Division of Wildlife et al. 
1997) (see factor E).

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Education Purposes

    The Service believes that the effects of an overharvest of Canada 
lynx during the 1970's and 1980's persist today and continue to reduce 
the potential for recovery of lynx populations in the contiguous United 
States by precluding repopulation of areas of suitable habitat. Where 
exploitation is intense and recruitment is low, trapping can 
significantly depress lynx populations (Koehler and Aubry 1994). Fewer 
Canada lynx of breeding age reduce the ability and degree to which lynx 
populations recover after population lows (de Vos and Matel 1952; Brand 
and Keith 1979; Todd 1985; Ward and Krebs 1985; Bailey et al. 1986; 
Hatler 1988; Brittell et al. 1989). Elton and Nicholson (1942) 
recognized that overharvest had the potential to diminish lynx 
populations to levels where the natural cycles of lynx populations 
could not occur.
    Lynx behavior makes them susceptible to trapping. Canada lynx are 
easy to catch in traps (Bailey et al. 1986; Hatler 1988; Mills 1990). 
The potential number of traps a lynx encounters is increased when it 
moves long distances to search for prey. Canada lynx are more 
vulnerable to concentrated trapping efforts because lynx focus their 
hunting in areas where snowshoe hare densities are high (Ward and Krebs 
1985). On the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, juvenile lynx were five times 
more vulnerable to trapping than adults; several juvenile siblings can 
easily be trapped from a small area (Bailey et al. 1986). Trapping 
females that are accompanied by kittens often results in the death of 
those kittens because they are unable to feed and protect themselves 
(Bailey et al. 1986; Carbyn and Patriquin 1983; Parker et al. 1983). It 
is possible for a trapper to remove a large proportion of a local lynx 
population by trapping where lynx are concentrated (Carbyn and 
Patriquin 1983; Ward and Krebs 1985; Bailey et al. 1986; J. Weaver, 
pers. comm. 1994).
    Human-induced mortality is the most important mortality factor for 
Canada lynx populations (Ward and Krebs 1985). Trapping mortality has 
been shown to be entirely additive (i.e., in addition to natural 
mortality) rather than compensatory (taking the place of natural 
mortality) (Brand and Keith 1979). In Minnesota, trapping was estimated 
to account for 81 percent of known lynx mortality during cyclic lows 
and 58 percent of mortality during cyclic highs (Henderson 1978). In 
numerous studies, trapping or shooting was documented as the cause of a 
substantial majority of Canada lynx mortalities (Mech 1980; Carbyn and 
Patriquin 1983; Ward and Krebs 1985; Bailey et al. 1986).
    Unregulated trapping and hunting of Canada lynx continued for 
decades in the contiguous United States. Lynx were bountied in several 
States until relatively recently. Canada lynx were likely overexploited 
during periods of unregulated harvest in the Northeast and Great Lakes 
regions (K. Gustafson, pers. comm. 1994; J. Lanier, pers. comm. 1994). 
In the Rocky Mountains/Cascades Region, lynx population declines prior 
to 1940 were attributed to high trapping pressure (Nellis 1971).
    Historically, lynx trapping provided a significant economic return 
in the fur trading industry. During periods of high pelt prices, the 
potential for obtaining even a single lynx pelt made trapping efforts 
worthwhile (Quinn and Parker 1987, Hatler 1988). This economic 
incentive increases the threat of over exploitation of Canada lynx 
populations.
    The present low numbers of lynx in the contiguous United States and 
southern Canada are the residual effects of substantial overtrapping 
that occurred in the 1970's and 1980's, in response to unprecedented 
high pelt prices (Bailey et al. 1986; B. Berg, pers. comm. 1994; D. 
Mech, pers. comm. 1994; M. Novak, Ontario Ministry Natural Resources, 
pers. comm. 1994; A. Todd, Alberta Department of Forestry, Lands, and 
Wildlife, pers. comm. 1994). As a result of fur demands by the fashion 
industry, pelt prices began increasing around 1975 (Hatler 1988, Hash 
1990). In Montana, the 1974 average pelt price was $63, but by 1978 the 
average price increased over 500 percent to $348 (B. Giddings, in litt. 
1994). Lynx pelt prices peaked in the mid-1980's at nearly $500 and 
remained above $200 per pelt for 12 years until 1989. Pelt prices were 
comparable throughout the United States and

[[Page 37004]]

Canada (Todd 1985; Hatler 1988; I. McKay, Manitoba Natural Resources, 
in litt. 1994; Quebec Department of Recreation, Fish, and Game, in 
litt. 1994).
    The number of Montana bobcat and lynx trapping licenses is an 
example of a general index of trapper effort and also of the amount of 
trapping pressure on lynx populations. Records indicate that the price 
of pelts influenced the trapping effort. The average number of licensed 
lynx and bobcat trappers from 1972-73 through 1974-75 was 1,600 (B. 
Giddings, in litt. 1994). After the record high pelt prices in 1978-79, 
a total of nearly 5,000 trappers were licensed for the next season. 
Although information on licenses was not available after 1982, trapper 
effort likely remained high as long as pelt prices were high and lynx 
were being trapped. Records for other regions during this period 
demonstrate the same trend (Brand and Keith 1979; Todd 1985; Bailey et 
al. 1986; Hatler 1988; Washington Department of Wildlife 1993; M. 
DonCarlos, in litt. 1994; I. McKay, in litt. 1994; Quebec Department of 
Recreation, Fish, and Game, in litt. 1994).
    This period of intense trapping pressure also occurred during a 
period of naturally declining Canada lynx numbers in Canada. Periods of 
population decline are critical times when trapping has a greater 
additive impact on a population's ability to recover from periodic lows 
(Brand and Keith 1979; Bailey et al. 1986). Alberta's lynx fur harvest 
during the 1975-76 cyclic low was still nearly 2 to 3 times higher than 
that during the preceding two cyclic lows (Todd 1985). In Quebec from 
1976 to 1979, lynx harvest reached record highs for a period during a 
cyclic low in hare and lynx populations (Quebec Department of 
Recreation, Fish, and Game, in litt. 1993). These harvest levels are 
linked to the highest pelt prices ever recorded there and to a 
continuous and sustained increase in the number of trappers during the 
preceding decade.
    The additive trapping mortality of Canada lynx during the 1970's 
and 1980's depleted the breeding stock of lynx populations in the 
United States and southern Canada, which limited the ability for lynx 
populations to subsequently recover and repopulate areas of suitable 
habitat. Lynx populations may have become so severely depleted that 
they cannot reach their former densities during the periods of abundant 
prey and maximum reproductive success (Quinn and Parker 1987; Hatler 
1988). The lynx population of the 1980's and 1990's has reflected the 
over exploitation of the previous decade in the lack of cyclic lynx 
highs in parts of the contiguous United States and the lack of typical 
cyclic influxes of lynx from Canada, although data have indicated 
normal hare populations (M. DonCarlos, in litt. 1994; M. DonCarlos, 
pers. comm. 1994).
    In response to substantially declining harvests during the 1970's 
and 1980's (indicating that lynx populations were being over 
exploited), Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Alberta, British Columbia, 
Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Alaska severely restricted or closed 
their lynx harvest seasons (Bailey et al. 1986; Hatler 1988; Hash 1990; 
Washington Department of Wildlife 1993; S. Conn, in litt. 1990; M. 
DonCarlos, in litt. 1994; B. Giddings, in litt. 1994; R. McFetridge, 
Alberta Environmental Protection, in litt. 1994; I. McKay, in litt. 
1994; M. Novak, pers. comm. 1994). Because of continued concern for 
lynx populations, none of the States have relaxed their restrictions, 
and many Canadian provinces still maintain careful control of lynx 
harvest (Alberta Environmental Protection 1993; Washington Department 
of Wildlife 1993; M. DonCarlos, in litt. 1994; B. Giddings, in litt. 
1994; R. McFetridge, in litt. 1994; I. McKay pers. comm. 1997).
    As of 1993, the lynx population in portions of Quebec apparently 
has not yet fully recovered despite adequate, increasing hare 
populations (Quebec Department of Recreation, Fish, and Game, in litt. 
1993). Because of concern over a potentially declining lynx population, 
the British Columbia government closed the season on Canada lynx for a 
3-year period in the mid-1990's (A. Fontana, British Columbia 
Department of Wildlife, pers. comm. 1994). Manitoba closed its lynx 
season Province-wide from 1995-1997 because of low lynx numbers (I. 
McKay, pers. comm. 1997).
    States where lynx currently or historically occur declare harvest 
of lynx illegal, with the exception of Montana, where legal harvest is 
set by a limited statewide quota of two. In all States where the lynx 
was considered to be a resident species, lynx are included on the 
State's lists of endangered, threatened, protected, or regulated game 
species.

C. Disease or Predation

    Disease and predation are not known to be factors threatening 
Canada lynx. However, in areas with human population centers, or high 
human densities in more rural areas, diseases of domestic animals may 
pose potential threats to lynx (R. Brocke, State University of New 
York, pers. comm. 1994).

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    There are no regulatory mechanisms that address the management or 
conservation of functional Canada lynx habitat, although most states 
provide the Canada lynx with protection from hunting and trapping.
    Lynx are classified as endangered by 4 of the 16 States in the 
contiguous United States where the Canada lynx was considered to be a 
resident species, Vermont (1972), New Hampshire (1980), Michigan 
(1987), and Colorado (1976). Lynx are classified as threatened by 
Washington (1993). Utah has classified the lynx as a sensitive species. 
The lynx is classified as a species of special concern in Maine (1997) 
and in Wisconsin it is protected (1997). Two States officially classify 
them as extirpated: Pennsylvania (J. Belfonti, in litt. 1994) and 
Massachusetts (J. Cardoza, in litt. 1994). Five States classify lynx as 
small game or furbearers with closed seasons: Idaho (1997), New York 
(1967), Minnesota (1984), Wyoming (1973), and Oregon (1997).
    A Canada lynx trapping season still occurs in Montana, but the 
legal, State wide quota is restricted to two animals. In response to 
declining harvests, Montana has substantially reduced the lynx quota 
since 1977 (when the lynx was added to the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and Montana classified the species 
as a furbearer). Since 1991, the quota has been two for the entire 
State, which has been met or slightly exceeded annually (B. Giddings, 
pers. comm. 1998).
    Estimates of illegal harvest of Canada lynx are unavailable for 
most areas. Illegal harvest has been a serious concern in localized 
areas in the past (Washington Department of Wildlife 1993).
    On February 4, 1977, the Canada lynx was included in Appendix II of 
CITES. The CITES is an international treaty established to prevent 
international trade that may be detrimental to the survival of plants 
and animals. A CITES export permit must be issued by the exporting 
country before an Appendix II species may be shipped. The CITES permits 
may not be issued if the export will be detrimental to the survival of 
the species or if the specimens were not legally acquired. However, 
CITES does not itself regulate take or domestic trade.
    Regulatory mechanisms to protect Canada lynx habitat are limited. 
Although the U.S. Forest Service

[[Page 37005]]

classifies lynx as a sensitive species within the contiguous United 
States, few national forests have developed population viability 
objectives or management guidelines required by the National Forest 
Management Act for Canada lynx because of limited information about the 
species' requirements. All national forests are obligated to protect 
biological diversity on Federal lands.
    In the northeast region, the Green Mountain National Forest Plan 
states that the national forest will develop management plans if and 
when an established Canada lynx population is detected (U.S. Forest 
Service 1986a). There are no specific regulations or guidelines 
pertaining to lynx habitat. The White Mountain National Forest Plan 
includes Canada lynx as an indicator species and limits recreational 
trail density in Canada lynx habitat. The forest plan calls for 
consideration of the needs of the species in planning alternatives, the 
monitoring of lynx populations, and for initiating or coordinating 
studies and/or recovery efforts (U.S. Forest Service 1986b).
    In the Great Lakes region, some national forests apply standards 
for gray wolf (Canis lupus) to guide Canada lynx habitat management (M. 
Shedd, Superior National Forest, pers. comm. 1994). It is unknown 
whether wolf standards are appropriate for lynx.
    Washington Department of Wildlife (1993) determined that habitat 
needs of Canada lynx had not been considered adequately while planning 
for timber harvest on national forest and State lands in some areas of 
the State.
    Several lynx conservation plans exist or are under development. 
Such plans include the lynx habitat management guidelines for 
Washington (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 1993; R. Naney, 
Okanogan National Forest, in litt. 1994), the Idaho State conservation 
effort (Roloff 1995), Washington Department of Natural Resources 
conservation strategy (Washington Department of Natural Resources 
1996a), Boise-Cascade Timber Corporation lynx habitat management plan 
in Washington (Whitwill and Roloff 1996), Kootenai National Forest in 
Montana (Kootenai National Forest 1997), and the Southern Rocky 
Mountains, Draft strategy for the conservation and reestablishment of 
lynx and wolverine in the southern Rocky Mountains (Colorado Division 
of Wildlife et al. 1997). At this time, there has been no comprehensive 
review of these plans to determine whether the guidelines in these 
plans have the ability to maintain or increase lynx populations. The 
degree to which these plans are or will be implemented and monitored 
varies.
    Land use on private lands can have a great impact on Canada lynx 
habitat. The majority of Canada lynx habitat in the Northeast region 
occurs on private land, ranging from small residential lots to large 
industrial ownerships (Harper et al. 1990). All States in the region 
have various laws and regulations regarding environmental issues 
(Harper et al. 1990). Indirectly these regulations may promote the 
conservation of habitat; however, none are directed specifically to 
Canada lynx habitat conservation. In the Northeast region, the Northern 
Forest Lands Council has a charter to maintain traditional patterns of 
landownership and use; part of this effort includes a forest inventory 
(Northern Forest Lands Council, in litt. 1994). How this effort may 
affect the conservation of Canada lynx habitat is unknown.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Loss of suitable habitat for Canada lynx reduces the potential for 
population growth or recolonization of the lynx and further confines 
lynx to smaller, more isolated habitat units (Weaver 1993). Isolation 
increases the susceptibility of the lynx to human-caused threats, 
natural stochastic events, and effects of genetic bottlenecks (Andrews 
1992; Weaver 1993). In the Rocky Mountain/Cascades Region much of lynx 
habitat is naturally disjunct and habitat connectivity is required 
across large geographic areas to facilitate dispersal and genetic 
exchange (Roloff 1995). The increased fragmentation of forest lands and 
loss of connectivity within and among blocks of habitat in the interior 
Columbia River basin of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana has 
reduced the ability of some wildlife populations to move across the 
landscape, resulting in long-term loss of genetic interchange (U.S. 
Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management 1997).
    Elevated levels of human access into forests are a significant 
threat to Canada lynx because they increase the likelihood of lynx 
encountering people, which may result in displacement of lynx from 
their habitats and/or possible injuries or deaths by intentional or 
unintentional shooting, trapping, and vehicle accidents (Hatler 1988; 
Thiel 1987; Brittell et al. 1989; Koehler and Brittell 1990; Brocke et 
al. 1991; Andrew 1992; Washington Department of Wildlife 1993; Brocke 
et al. 1993; M. Hunter, University of Maine, pers. comm. 1994). Human 
access into Canada lynx habitat in many areas has increased over the 
last several decades because of increasing human populations and 
increased construction of roads and trails and the growing popularity 
of snowmobiles and offroad vehicles. In the interior Columbia River 
basin of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, increased human access 
has decreased the availability of areas with low human activities, 
which are important to large forest carnivores, including lynx (U.S. 
Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management 1997).
    Lynx will use some types of roads for hunting and travel (Koehler 
and Aubry 1994). Koehler and Aubry (1994) concluded road construction 
and maintenance are important components of lynx habitat management 
because they both destroy and create prey habitat, but also make lynx 
more vulnerable to human-caused mortalities. In the interior Columbia 
River basin of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, high road 
densities were found primarily in intensively managed forest lands of 
both public and private ownership (U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of 
Land Management 1997).
    Wide-ranging species are impacted by the increased road densities 
that often accompany human-caused forest fragmentation (Litvaitis 
1993). The Loomis State Forest in Washington plans to construct a total 
of 615 mi of roads from 1996 to 2005 (Washington Department of Natural 
Resources 1996b). According to the plan, the density of roads in 
primary lynx habitat will be 1.91 to 3.04 road mi per square mile (sq 
mi) (Washington Department of Natural Resources 1996b). Even roads that 
are considered ``closed'' will continue to be accessible to 
snowmobiles, thereby allowing access to higher elevation lynx habitat 
by humans and lynx competitors.
    In the Pioneer Mountains of Montana, a currently narrow, unpaved 
road is being paved and widened to further encourage already high 
recreational use of the forest (Harding Lawson Associates 
Infrastructure, Inc. 1996). The project area is occupied, high-quality 
lynx habitat, although lynx use of the area is currently restricted 
because of intense recreational use of the area (Harding Lawson 
Associates Infrastructure, Inc. 1996). Completion of this road project 
will impact lynx by causing further deterioration of lynx habitat, 
because increased human activity will sever lynx travel corridors and 
mortalities from vehicle collisions will increase (Harding Lawson 
Associates Infrastructure, Inc. 1996).
    Blocks of suitable habitat, both public and private, are often 
dissected by extensive networks of paved roads. Traffic on highways has 
been shown to

[[Page 37006]]

pose a considerable mortality risk to Canada lynx (Brocke et al. 1991; 
B. Ruediger, U.S. Forest Service, pers. comm. 1997). Highway densities 
are a contributing factor in the decline of carnivores, including the 
lynx, in the contiguous United States (Ruediger 1996). Dispersing or 
transient lynx are more vulnerable to traffic deaths than resident lynx 
because their movements over large areas increase their exposure to 
roads. In the Great Lakes States, recent records of lynx are from 
mortalities due to vehicle collisions, which could limit the potential 
for reestablishment of populations in Wisconsin or Michigan.
    Increasing human access into Canada lynx habitat has increased the 
vulnerability of Canada lynx to both legal and illegal harvest in areas 
that, historically, were relatively isolated from humans (Todd 1985; 
McKay 1991; Washington Department of Wildlife 1993; M. Hunter, pers. 
comm. 1994). In the Uinta Mountains of Utah, most of the documented 
Canada lynx specimens were shot during deer hunting season in an area 
easily accessed by hunters (McKay 1991). In Washington, there is 
concern that human access may reduce the number of Canada lynx 
emigrating from British Columbia, further increasing the vulnerability 
of the remaining small population (Washington Department of Wildlife 
1993). The high degree of access into Alberta's forests created by 
petroleum development and logging was suggested as an explanation for 
why Alberta produced a large proportion of the total Canadian lynx 
harvest in the 1970's and 1980's (Todd 1985).
    Human access is a particularly important factor during periods when 
Canada lynx populations are low and concentrated in localized refugia. 
Brand and Keith (1979) indicated that refugia may have supported only 
adult lynx during population lows. Refugia were therefore critical for 
repopulating available range elsewhere when the population increased 
(Todd 1985). If such refugia were accessible to humans, local lynx 
populations could be easily extirpated by trapping, particularly if 
there are incentives such as high pelt prices (Carbyn and Patriquin 
1983; Ward and Krebs 1985; Bailey et al. 1986; J. Weaver, pers. comm. 
1994; Koehler and Aubry 1994).
    The Canada lynx may be displaced or eliminated when competitors 
(e.g., bobcat, coyote) expand into its range (de Vos and Matel 1952; 
Parker et al. 1983; Quinn and Parker 1987; M. DonCarlos, pers. comm. 
1994; D. Major, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1994; J. 
Weaver, pers. comm. 1994). The Canada lynx is at a competitive 
disadvantage against these other species because it is a specialized 
predator, whereas bobcat and coyotes are generalists that are able to 
feed on a wide variety of prey. Historically, bobcat and coyotes have 
not been able to compete with lynx in areas that receive deep snow 
cover, where lynx are much more highly adapted. Where Canada lynx and 
bobcat or coyote ranges overlapped, their niches were segregated by 
winter range conditions (McCord and Cardoza 1982; Parker et al. 1983; 
Quinn and Parker 1987). In Yukon, Canada, coyotes selected snow that 
was shallower and harder than that used by lynx (Murray et al. 1994).
    Some biologists believe competition has played a significant role 
in the decline of Canada lynx (Brocke 1982; Parker et al. 1983; E. 
Bangs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1994). Murray et al. 
(1994) speculate that, in Yukon, use of open spruce forests by lynx may 
have been to avoid areas where coyotes were present. In Utah, where 
more habitat is suitable for bobcat, it has been suggested that bobcat 
competition with Canada lynx resulted in the possible extirpation of 
Canada lynx from Utah (B. Blackwell, pers. comm. 1994). Research has 
detected direct competition in certain areas, as on Cape Breton Island 
where, without changes in forest habitat, bobcats displaced Canada lynx 
from all areas except high elevations, where snow accumulation limited 
the bobcat's range (Parker et al. 1983).
    Competition between Canada lynx and other species may be 
facilitated through alteration of forests by timber harvest or other 
human activities. Modified habitat may be more suitable to Canada lynx 
competitors or may facilitate the establishment of a competitor after 
local extirpation of the lynx (McCord and Cardoza 1982; Quinn and 
Parker 1987). In the Northeast United States, extensive clearing of 
forests for timber and agriculture improved conditions for white-tailed 
deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations, which subsequently may have 
influenced a northward expansion of bobcats into the region (K. 
Gustafson, pers. comm. 1994). Additionally, mild weather in some 
regions for the past decade has improved conditions and habitat for 
bobcat and coyotes, particularly by minimizing snow depth (Quinn and 
Parker 1987; J. Weaver, pers. comm. 1994). Coyotes have been colonizing 
Maine and New Hampshire since the 1970's (Litvaitis and Harrison 1989).
    Competition during late winter, a time when lynx are already 
nutritionally stressed, may be especially detrimental to lynx (Koehler 
and Aubry 1994). Snowmobile trails and roads that are maintained for 
winter recreation and forest management activities enable coyotes and 
bobcats to access lynx winter habitat (Koehler and Aubry 1994).
    Snowmobile use in the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain/Cascades 
regions has resulted in an increase in both human presence and the 
prevalence of packed snow corridors in lynx habitat. The increased 
snowmobile use and the increased area in which snowmobiles are used 
likely diminishes habitat quality for lynx, and also decreases the 
lynx's competitive advantage in deep snow. This results in an increased 
threat posed by competitors, as a result of the increase in hard-packed 
snow trails.
    Legal trapping activities for bobcat, coyotes, and other furbearers 
create a potential for incidental capture of lynx. The threat to 
resident lynx from legal trapping for other species may be limited 
because most bobcat or coyote trapping occurs in areas unlikely to 
support lynx (M. DonCarlos, pers. comm. 1994; K. Elowe, Maine 
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, pers. comm. 1994; J. 
Lanier, pers. comm. 1994; D. Mech, pers. comm. 1994; Maine Department 
of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in litt. 1997).
    Where Canada lynx populations have been substantially reduced or 
extirpated in the contiguous United States, natural recolonization of 
suitable habitat likely will require lynx migration from other areas in 
the contiguous United States or Canada. However, because of the 
unsuitable habitat isolating Colorado and southeastern Wyoming from the 
remainder of the Rocky Mountains/Cascades, recolonization through 
immigration is extremely unlikely.
    Winter navigation and associated ice breaking on the St. Mary's 
River between Ontario and Upper Michigan could be a potential threat to 
reestablishment or maintenance of a lynx population in that area. 
Presently, the St. Mary's River shipping channel is not kept open 
between January 15 and March 25. Ice breaking before or after that 
period could reduce the amount of time available for lynx to immigrate 
across the St. Mary's shipping channel from Ontario to Michigan 
(Robinson and Fuller 1980).

Distinct Population Segment

    For a species to be listable under the Act, it must meet the 
definition of a ``species'' as provided in the Act. The Act defines 
``species'' as a species, subspecies, or distinct population segment of 
a vertebrate species. On

[[Page 37007]]

February 7, 1996 (61 FR 4722), the Service and National Marine 
Fisheries Service published final policy guidance concerning 
recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments for 
consideration under the Act. It is necessary for the Service to use 
this Vertebrate Population Policy when it is considering listing a 
vertebrate species or species as endangered or threatened in only a 
portion of its range. In developing this proposed rule the Service 
evaluated whether Canada lynx in the contiguous United States 
constitutes a distinct population segment under the population policy.
    While application of the vertebrate population policy may result in 
the identification of a greater number of potentially listable 
entities, the policy was developed specifically to allow for more 
refined application of the Act that better reflects the biological 
needs of the taxon being considered and avoids the inclusion of 
entities that may not require the considerable protections of the Act. 
This approach better serves Congress's intent that listing of distinct 
population segments be conducted ``sparingly.''
    Under the vertebrate population policy, two elements, discreteness 
and significance, must be considered to determine whether a species' 
population meets the definition of a distinct population segment. If a 
population is discrete and significant, its status is evaluated using 
the five listing factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act to 
determine if it meets the definition of either threatened or 
endangered.
    A species' population segment can be considered discrete from the 
remainder of the taxon if it satisfies either one of the following 
conditions: (1) ``it is markedly separated from other populations of 
the same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, 
or behavioral factors,'' or (2) ``it is delimited by international 
governmental boundaries within which differences in control of 
exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory 
mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of 
the Act.'' Given that the Service has determined that resident, viable 
numbers of Canada lynx exist in the contiguous United States (see 
Background section), the Service concludes that the contiguous United 
States population of the Canada lynx is discrete based on the 
international boundary between Canada and the contiguous United States 
because of differences in status and management of Canada lynx between 
the United States and Canada.
    In Canada, management of forest lands and conservation of wildlife 
habitat varies depending on Provincial regulations. In Alberta, there 
is no law regulating forest practices and the status of Canada lynx in 
Alberta is of concern because of habitat-related threats as a result of 
logging (B. Triechel, Alberta Environmental Protection, pers. comm. 
1997). There is no overarching forest practices legislation in Canada, 
such as the United States' National Forest Management Act, governing 
management of national lands and/or providing for consideration of 
wildlife habitat requirements. Additionally, in Canada, lynx harvest 
regulations vary, being regulated by individual Province or, in some 
cases, individual trapping district.
    According to the Vertebrate Population policy, a population segment 
can be considered significant based on information such as the 
following: (1) ``Persistence of the discrete population segment in an 
ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon''; (2) ``Evidence 
that loss of the discrete population segment would result in a 
significant gap in the range of the taxon''; (3) ``Evidence that the 
discrete population segment represents the only surviving natural 
occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an 
introduced population outside its historic range;'' and (4) ``Evidence 
that the discrete population segment differs markedly from other 
populations of the species in its genetic characteristics.''
    In a general sense, Canada lynx in the contiguous United States 
might be considered biologically and/or ecologically significant simply 
because they represent the southern extent of the species' overall 
range. There are climatic and vegetational differences between Canada 
lynx habitat in the contiguous United States and that in northern 
latitudes in Canada and Alaska (Kuchler 1965). In the contiguous United 
States, Canada lynx inhabit a mosaic between boreal forests and 
sublpine coniferous forests or northern hardwoods, whereas in more 
northern latitudes, Canada lynx habitat is the boreal forest ecosystem 
(Barbour et al. 1980; McCord and Cardoza 1982; Koehler and Aubry 1994; 
M. Hunter, University of Maine, pers. comm. 1994; Colorado Division of 
Wildlife et al. 1997) (see Background section).
    Canada lynx and snowshoe hare population dynamics in portions of 
the contiguous United States are different from those in northern 
Canada. Historically, Canada lynx and snowshoe hare populations in some 
areas of the contiguous United States have not exhibited the extreme 
cyclic population fluctuations of the northern latitudes for which 
Canada lynx are noted (Dolbeer and Clark 1975; Brittell et al. 1989; 
Wolff 1980; Buehler and Keith 1982; Koehler 1990; Koehler and Aubry 
1994) (see Background section). This less cyclic population has been 
attributed to the lower quality and quantity of snowshoe hare habitat 
available in southern latitudes and/or the presence of additional 
snowshoe hare predators (Buehler and Keith 1982, Wolff 1982 in Koehler 
and Aubry 1994, Koehler 1990, Koehler and Aubry 1994).
    Extirpation of the contiguous United States population of the 
Canada lynx would result in a significant gap in the range of the 
taxon. Canada lynx would not only be lost throughout a broad region of 
the United States, but a number of ecosystems would lose a top-level 
carnivore from their representative fauna.
    After review and consideration of Canada lynx status and management 
in the contiguous United States and Canada, contacts with recognized 
experts, lynx life history, habitat, and population dynamics, the 
Service has determined that the Canada lynx in the contiguous United 
States is discrete and significant and, therefore, qualifies as a 
distinct population segment to be considered for listing under the Act.

Finding

    Based on historic observations, trapping records and other evidence 
available to the Service at this time, the Service finds that, 
historically, Canada lynx were resident in 16 of the contiguous United 
States. The overall numbers and range of Canada lynx in the contiguous 
United States are substantially reduced from historic levels. 
Currently, resident populations of lynx likely exist in Maine, Montana, 
Washington, and possibly Minnesota. States with recent records of 
individual lynx sightings, but possibly no longer sustaining self-
supporting populations, include Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon, Idaho, 
Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. Lynx may be extirpated from New Hampshire, 
Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
    At present, lynx numbers in the contiguous United States have not 
recovered from the overexploitation by both unregulated and regulated 
trapping that occurred in the 1970's and 1980's. As a result, the other 
threats to the lynx described earlier under the ``Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species'' section have a serious effect on the remaining 
population. Where Canada lynx numbers have been substantially reduced 
or extirpated, natural recolonization of suitable habitat likely

[[Page 37008]]

will require lynx migration from other areas in the contiguous United 
States or Canada. In Maine, there is evidence that lynx move back and 
forth across the Canadian border, indicating that Maine lynx habitat is 
contiguous with occupied habitat in Quebec and possibly, New Brunswick 
(M. Amaral, in litt. 1998).
    Forest management practices that result in the loss of diverse age 
structure, roading, urbanization, agriculture, recreational 
developments, and unnatural fire frequencies have altered suitable lynx 
habitat in many areas throughout the contiguous United States. As a 
result, many states may have insufficient habitat quality and/or 
quantity to sustain lynx or their prey.
    The likelihood of lynx encountering people has dramatically 
increased over the last few decades as a result of elevated levels of 
human access into lynx habitat. Roads and trails, snowmobiles, offroad 
vehicles, and ski area developments enable human access into 
historically remote forests, thereby increasing the likelihood of lynx 
being displaced from otherwise suitable habitats and increasing the 
vulnerability of lynx to human-induced mortality.
    Although the legal taking of lynx is highly restricted in the 
contiguous United States, existing regulatory mechanisms may be 
inadequate to protect the small, remnant lynx populations or to 
conserve Canada lynx habitat.
    The cumulative effect of these habitat changes has been the 
creation of habitats and prey bases that are better able to support 
lynx competitors, such as bobcats and coyotes, rather than lynx. 
Bobcats are able to outcompete lynx except in habitats with excessive 
snow depths. Roads and packed snow trails have allowed bobcats and 
coyotes to access the winter habitats for which lynx are highly 
specialized.
    Recently, some States, Federal agencies, and other entities have 
initiated survey and research efforts to better evaluate the status of 
the Canada lynx within the contiguous United States. Additionally, some 
States such as Washington, Colorado, and Idaho are in the process of 
developing strategies to conserve and restore lynx in their states.
    Resident lynx populations still occur in Montana, Washington, Maine 
and, possibly, Minnesota. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and 
Parks, Montana's lynx numbers are fairly stable. Therefore, the Service 
concludes that a designation as threatened is appropriate. A threatened 
species is defined in the Act as a species likely to become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.
    Based on the preceding discussions and analyses, using the best 
available scientific and commercial information available, the Service 
finds that listing of the Canada lynx within the contiguous United 
States is warranted. The Service proposes to list the contiguous United 
States Canada lynx population segment (consisting of the States of 
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, 
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, 
Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado) as threatened.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3(5)(a) of the Act as-- (i) 
the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, 
at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found 
those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation 
of the species and (II) that may require special management 
considerations or protection and; (ii) specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon 
a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of 
the species. The term ``conservation'' as defined in section 3(3) of 
the Act means ``to use and the use of all methods and procedures 
necessary to bring any endangered or threatened species to the point at 
which the measures provided pursuant to this Act are no longer 
necessary,'' i.e., the species is recovered and can be removed from the 
list of endangered and threatened species.
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent 
and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at the time 
the species is determined to be endangered or threatened. The Service 
finds that designation of critical habitat is not prudent for the 
Canada lynx at this time. Service regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) 
state that designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or 
both of the following situations exist--(1) the species is threatened 
by taking or other human activity, and identification of critical 
habitat can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the 
species, or (2) such designation of critical habitat would not be 
beneficial to the species.
    In accordance with the definition of critical habitat provided by 
section 3(5)(A)(I) of the Act, the Service's regulations require the 
Service to consider those physical and biological features that are 
essential to the conservation of the species and that may require 
special management considerations or protection. Such requirements 
include, but are not limited to--(1) space for individual and 
population growth, and for normal behavior; (2) food, water, air, 
light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological requirements; 
(3) cover or shelter; (4) sites for breeding, reproduction, rearing of 
offspring, germination, or seed dispersal; and, generally, (5) habitats 
that are protected from disturbance or are representative of the 
historic geographical and ecological distributions of a species.
    Potential benefits of critical habitat designation derive from 
section 7(a)(2) of the Act, which requires Federal agencies, in 
consultation with the Service, to ensure that their actions are not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or to 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat 
of such species. Critical habitat, by definition, applies only to 
Federal agency actions. The 50 CFR 402.02 defines ``jeopardize the 
continued existence of'' as meaning to engage in an action that would 
reasonably be expected, directly or indirectly, to reduce appreciably 
the likelihood of both the survival and recovery of a listed species in 
the wild by reducing the reproduction, numbers, or distribution of that 
species. ``Destruction or adverse modification'' is defined as a direct 
or indirect alteration that appreciably diminishes the value of 
critical habitat for both the survival and recovery of a listed 
species. Such alterations include, but are not limited to, alterations 
adversely modifying any of those physical or biological features that 
were the basis for determining the habitat to be critical. Thus, in the 
section 7(a)(2) consultation process, the jeopardy analysis focuses on 
potential effects on the species' populations, whereas the destruction 
or adverse modification analysis focuses on habitat value.
    Common to both a jeopardy and the destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat is the requirement that the Service 
find an appreciable effect on both the species' survival and recovery. 
This is in contrast to the public perception that the adverse 
modification standard sets a lower threshold for violation of section 7 
than that for jeopardy. Thus, Federal actions satisfying the standard 
for adverse modification are nearly always found to also jeopardize the 
species concerned, and the existence of critical habitat designation 
does not materially affect

[[Page 37009]]

the outcome of consultation. Biological opinions that conclude that a 
Federal agency action is likely to adversely modify critical habitat 
but is not likely to jeopardize the species for which it is designated 
are extremely rare historically; none have been issued in recent years. 
Thus, the Service believes that, from a section 7 consultation 
perspective, no additional conservation benefit would be achieved for 
the contiguous United States Canada lynx population by the designation 
of critical habitat.
    Currently, in the contiguous United States, legal harvest of lynx 
is not a threat to the population because all States, except Montana, 
have closed seasons on the harvest of lynx. Montana has an extremely 
low quota, allowing two lynx to be harvested per season. Additionally, 
current prices for lynx pelts are relatively low so there is little 
incentive to trap lynx. However, should pelt prices increase again in 
the future, there will be strong incentive to trap lynx as evidenced by 
trapping records from the 1970's and 1980's (see Factor B, above). 
Designation of critical habitat would increase the vulnerability of 
lynx to poaching; therefore, the Service concludes it would not be 
prudent to designate critical habitat.
    In the contiguous United States, Canada lynx inhabit a mosaic 
between boreal forests and subalpine coniferous forests or northern 
hardwoods, as described earlier in the Background section. Canada lynx 
are highly dependent on snowshoe hares to supply an adequate food 
source. Canada lynx concentrate their foraging activities in areas 
where hare activity is high. Snowshoe hares prefer structurally diverse 
forests, often early successional stages, with stands of conifers and 
shrubby understories that provide for feeding, escape from predators, 
and protection during extreme weather. For denning, it is believed 
Canada lynx require late successional forests that provide downed logs 
and windfalls for cover. Additionally, Canada lynx are highly mobile 
and can move long distances in search of prey (see Background section, 
above). Home range sizes vary widely (12 to 243 sq km (5-94 sq mi) 
depending primarily on the density of lynx and availability of prey in 
an area. For example, the estimated range of one male lynx would 
encompass all protected lands in the White Mountain National Forest in 
New Hampshire and Maine (Brocke et al. 1993).
    The Service concludes it would not be beneficial to designate 
specific geographic locations as critical habitat because snowshoe hare 
habitat and lynx denning habitat will always shift spatially and 
temporally across the landscape as a result of natural (e.g., fire, 
forest maturation, seasonal) and human-caused changes (e.g., logging, 
thinning). Canada lynx would reasonably be expected to relocate in 
response to the natural dynamics of lynx population levels, prey 
availability, and habitat conditions, thereby making little use of 
specific areas designated as critical habitat.
    Attempting to encompass lynx movements or the spatial shifts in 
lynx foraging or denning habitat that will occur over time by 
designating critical habitat on a large-scale (e.g., an entire national 
forest or wilderness area) would not be beneficial to the species. 
Under such a designation, it would be impracticable to assert that a 
single Federal action would appreciably diminish the value of critical 
habitat for both the survival and recovery of a listed species or that 
the entire expansive area requires special management or protection 
(the purpose of a critical habitat designation) for lynx. Additionally, 
Forest Plans that dictate how an entire national forest would be 
managed are already subject to review under section 7.
    A large-scale designation would be over inclusive because it would 
contain many areas that never were or will be lynx habitat and areas 
that, although they may be used by lynx, would not require special 
management or protection for lynx. For example, in 1994, nearly 60 
percent of the approximately 17 million acres of national forests in 
Montana were classified as roadless or designated wilderness areas (J. 
Gatchell, Montana Wilderness Association, pers. comm. 1994). However, a 
large proportion of these areas are not suitable lynx habitat because 
they consist of rock- and ice-covered mountaintops.
    A substantial amount of Federal land exists in the Western and 
Great Lakes regions of the contiguous United States lynx population 
segment in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, 
Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Actions on these Federal lands are 
ensured of the benefit of review under section 7 of the Act, regardless 
of whether or not critical habitat is designated. Potential and 
occupied Canada lynx habitat exists primarily on Federal lands managed 
by the U.S. Forest Service. Additional Federal land managers include 
but are not limited to the National Park Service and Bureau of Land 
Management. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land 
Management, and the Service are developing a section 7 conferencing and 
consultation strategy to conserve lynx on the 56 National Forests and 
numerous Bureau of Land Management districts within its historic range 
in the contiguous United States (B. Ruediger, in litt. 1998).
    Designation of critical habitat provides no limitations or 
constraints on private landowners if there is no Federal involvement 
and, as such, provides the species no conservation benefit. The amount 
of Federal land in the northeastern United States range of the lynx is 
small (primarily the White Mountain and Green Mountain National Forests 
in parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) compared to the amount 
of non-Federal land. Because few Federal actions occur in the 
northeastern United States range of the lynx, project review under 
section 7 of the Act would be rarely required (M. Amaral, pers. comm. 
1998).
    In the Rocky Mountain/Cascades, Great Lakes, and Northeast regions 
of the lynx range, there are large parcels of land in corporate 
ownership. Actions on these lands will either have no Federal nexus or 
will require review under section 7 of the Act.
    Protection of lynx habitat can be addressed in habitat conservation 
plans voluntarily developed by landowners under the section 10 
permitting process. In the State of Washington, Canada lynx are covered 
under a multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan on forest lands owned by 
Plum Creek Timber Company in the central Cascades mountain range.
    Therefore, because of the increased vulnerability of the lynx, the 
spatial and temporal changes in lynx foraging and denning habitats, the 
high mobility of individual lynx, the inability to control lynx habitat 
in Canada, and the fact that designation of critical habitat would 
provide little different or greater benefit than that provided by the 
jeopardy standard under section 7 regulations, the Service has 
determined that the designation of critical habitat for the contiguous 
United States population of the Canada lynx is not prudent.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and local agencies, private 
organizations, and individuals. The Act provides for possible land 
acquisition and cooperation with the States and requires

[[Page 37010]]

that recovery actions be carried out for all listed species. The 
protection required of Federal agencies and the prohibitions against 
taking and harm are discussed, in part, below.
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is being designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(4) requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on 
any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a 
species proposed for listing or result in destruction or adverse 
modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is listed 
subsequently, section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that 
activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a 
listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency 
must enter into formal consultation with the Service.
    The contiguous United States population of the Canada lynx occurs 
on lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park 
Service, Bureau of Land Management; Tribal lands, State lands, and 
private lands. Examples of Federal agency actions that may require 
conference and/or consultation as described in the preceding paragraph 
include timber, silviculture/thinning, road construction, fire, and 
recreation management activities or plans by the Forest Service, Bureau 
of Land Management, and National Park Service; Federal highway 
projects, and U.S. Housing and Urban Development projects.
    The Act and implementing regulations set forth a series of general 
prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all threatened wildlife. The 
prohibitions, codified at 50 CFR 17.21 and 17.31, in part, make it 
illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States 
to take (includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or attempt any of these), import or export, ship 
in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or 
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. It 
also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship 
any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions 
apply to agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered or threatened wildlife under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.32. Such permits are available for scientific purposes, to enhance 
the propagation or survival of the species, and/or for incidental take 
in the course of otherwise lawful activities. For threatened species, 
permits also are available for zoological exhibition, educational 
purposes, or special purposes consistent with the purposes of the Act. 
Regulations governing permits for species listed as threatened due to 
similarity of appearance are codified at 50 CFR 17.52 and regulation 
implementing CITES are codified at 50 CFR part 23.
    It is the policy of the Service (59 FR 34272; July 1, 1994) to 
identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is 
listed those activities that would or would not constitute a violation 
of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase 
public awareness of the effect of this listing on proposed and ongoing 
activities within the species' range.
    For the contiguous United States population of the Canada lynx, the 
Service believes the following actions would not likely result in a 
violation of section 9:
    (1) Actions that may affect Canada lynx in the contiguous United 
States that are authorized, funded or carried out by a Federal agency 
when the action is conducted in accordance with an incidental take 
statement issued by the Service pursuant to section 7 of the Act;
    (2) Actions that may result in take of Canada lynx in the 
contiguous United States when the action is conducted in accordance 
with a permit under section 10 of the Act; For the contiguous United 
States population of the Canada lynx, the following actions likely 
would be considered a violation of section 9:
    (1) Actions that take Canada lynx that are not authorized by either 
a permit under section 10 of the Act, or an incidental take permit 
under section 7 of the Act; the term ``take'' includes harassing, 
harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, 
capturing, or collecting, or attempting any of these actions;
    (2) Possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship illegally 
taken Canada lynx;
    (3) Interstate and foreign commerce (commerce across State and 
international boundaries) without the appropriate permits under section 
10(a)(1)(a), 50 CFR 17.32 and/or CITES.
    (4) Significant lynx habitat modification or degradation, including 
but not limited to forest management (e.g., logging, road construction 
and maintenance, prescribed fire), and recreational, urban, or 
agricultural development, to the point that it results in death or 
injury by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, or sheltering.
    Requests for copies of the regulations regarding listed wildlife 
and inquiries about prohibitions and permits may be addressed to U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, 
Denver, Colorado 80225.

Special Rule

    The implementing regulations for threatened wildlife under the Act 
incorporate the section 9 prohibitions for endangered wildlife (50 CFR 
17.31), except when a special rule promulgated pursuant to section 4(d) 
applies (50 CFR 17.31(c)). Section 4(d) of the Act provides that 
whenever a species is listed as a threatened species, the Service shall 
issue regulations deemed necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of the species. Conservation means the use of all methods 
and procedures necessary to bring the species to the point at which the 
protections of the Act are no longer necessary. Section 4(d) also 
states that the Service may, by regulation, extend to threatened 
species, prohibitions provided for endangered species under Section 9.
    This special rule will provide for the take of captive-bred Canada 
lynx without permit, allow the continuation of the export of captive-
bred Canada lynx under CITES export permits, and provide for the 
transportation of lynx skins in commerce within the United States. The 
export of properly tagged (with valid CITES export tag) skins from lynx 
documented as captive-bred will be permitted in accordance with part 23 
of this chapter. Properly tagged skins may be transported in interstate 
trade without permits otherwise required under part 17.32.

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service intends that any final action resulting from this 
proposal will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, 
comments, or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party concerning this proposed rule are hereby solicited. Comments 
particularly are sought concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to this species;

[[Page 37011]]

    (2) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size of the species;
    (3) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on this species;
    (4) Additional information pertaining to the promulgation of a 
special rule to provide States and Tribes the opportunity to maintain 
the lead role in protection, management, and recovery of the species 
through the voluntary development and implementation of a conservation 
plan. Such conservation plans would address activities having the 
potential to adversely impact lynx or lynx habitat, including 
activities that may result in the take of lynx incidental to otherwise 
lawful activities; provisions to avoid and minimize those impacts; and 
existing or planned conservation measures that will be implemented to 
result in a net recovery benefit for lynx. Potential activities to be 
addressed in such a plan may include trapping and hunting programs that 
target species other than lynx; forest management; road construction, 
maintenance and use; and recreational development. Approved 
conservation plans would authorize the non deliberate or non purposeful 
take of lynx incidental to otherwise lawful State or Tribal activities.
    The final decision on this proposal will take into consideration 
the comments and any additional information received by the Service, 
and such communications may lead to a final regulation that differs 
from this proposal.
    The Act provides for at least one public hearing on this proposal, 
if requested. However, given the high likelihood of several requests 
throughout the species' range, the Service has scheduled hearings in 
advance of any request. For additional information on public hearings, 
see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

Similarity of Appearance

    Section 4(e) of the Act authorizes the treatment of a species (or 
subspecies or population segment) as an endangered or threatened 
species even though it is not otherwise listed as endangered or 
threatened if: (a) The species so closely resembles in appearance an 
endangered or threatened species that enforcement personnel would have 
substantial difficulty in differentiating between listed and unlisted 
species; (b) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an additional 
threat to the endangered or threatened species; and (c) that such 
treatment will substantially facilitate the enforcement and further the 
policy of the Act.
    The Canada lynx is included in Appendix II of the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora 
(CITES). CITES is an international treaty that regulates international 
trade in certain animal and plant species. Exports of animals and 
plants listed on CITES Appendix II as a similarity of appearance 
species may occur only if the Scientific Authority has advised the 
Management Authority that such exports will not be detrimental to the 
survival of the look alike species, and if the Management Authority is 
satisfied that the animals or plants were not obtained in violation of 
laws for their protection. The Canada lynx was included in CITES 
Appendix II on February 4, 1977, as a part of the listing of all 
Felidae that were not already included in the appendices. A CITES 
export permit pursuant to 50 CFR part 23 must be issued by the 
exporting country before an Appendix II species may be shipped. All 
Felidae were included in Appendix II to enable better protection of 
look alike species that were or could be threatened with extinction 
without strict regulation of trade. After inclusion of the lynx (as 
well as the bobcat and river otter) in CITES Appendix II, the Service 
worked with the States to develop guidelines for State programs that 
would provide the information needed to satisfy CITES export 
requirements. Under the State CITES export programs, all skins to be 
exported are required to be tagged with a permanently attached, 
serially numbered tag that identified the species, State of origin, and 
season of taking. The tags are provided to the States by the Service. 
The States that were approved for export of lynx are Alaska, Idaho, 
Minnesota, Montana, and Washington. Canada lynx in Alaska are not 
encompassed by this listing, all existing CITES requirements remaining 
the same. Of the 48 contiguous States, Montana is the only State that 
still has a wild lynx harvest with a quota of two.
    Currently there are facilities in Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North 
Dakota, and Utah that raise captive-bred Canada lynx for commercial 
purposes. At least some of the farms report that their initial stock 
was obtained from Canada. From 1992 through 1997, Minnesota and Montana 
reported that a total of 139 lynx pelts were tagged for export under 
the CITES program and these primarily originated from farmed animals. 
The Service currently has an application pending for the export of 254 
captive-bred lynx from Utah. These captive-bred specimens have neither 
a positive or negative effect on the species in the wild.
    Current prices for lynx pelts are relatively low so there is little 
present incentive to trap lynx. However, should pelt prices increase 
again in the future, there could be strong incentive to trap wild lynx 
and export their pelts. Lynx are easy to trap and the illegal take of 
lynx may present an enforcement and inspection problem for Service 
personnel. Captive-bred Canada lynx cannot be effectively 
differentiated from wild Canada lynx by Service law enforcement and 
inspection personnel without proper tagging. For these reasons, the 
Service is listing the captive populations of Canada lynx within the 
United States as threatened due to similarity of appearance. However, 
under the latitude for threatened species afforded by the Act and 50 
CFR 17.31(c) the Service is proposing to issue permits for captive-bred 
Canada lynx to facilitate the lawful export of Canada lynx. The listing 
of the captive populations of Canada lynx within the United States as 
threatened due to similarity of appearance eliminates the ability of 
persons to misrepresent illegally taken wild Canada lynx as captive-
bred Canada lynx for commercial purposes.
    This proposed rule would, in addition to the export under 50 CFR 
part 23 of live captive-bred Canada lynx, allow the export of skins 
derived from captive-bred populations of Canada lynx if the specimens 
are tagged with a CITES export tag and accompanied by a valid CITES 
export permit. The import of lawfully obtained Canada lynx pelts 
originating in the nation of Canada would continue to require the 
necessary CITES export permits, but no additional Endangered Species 
Act import permit would be required. Interstate transport and/or 
commerce in skins that are properly tagged with valid CITES export tags 
would be allowed without permits otherwise required under 50 CFR 17.32. 
The export or interstate transport of skins of Canada lynx taken 
incidental to otherwise lawful trapping for species other than Canada 
lynx will not be permitted under the special rule. The import of live 
specimens would require permits under the Act.
    Regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act are set forth 
at 50 CFR part 17. Any person intending to engage in an activity for 
which a permit is required such as exporting lawfully obtained Canada 
lynx must, before commencing such activity, obtain a valid permit 
authorizing such activity. Permit requirements for threatened species 
are set forth at 50 CFR 17.31 and 17.32. Permit requirements for 
species

[[Page 37012]]

listed by similarity of appearance are set forth at 50 CFR 17.52, with 
exceptions to permit requirements provided by special rule as proposed 
herein. The Service's general permit procedures are set forth at 50 CFR 
part 13. Uniform rules and procedures for the importation, exportation 
and transportation of wildlife are set forth at 50 CFR part 14.
    In summary, CITES/Endangered Species Act permits will be required 
for U.S. captive-bred lynx being sold abroad. No U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
permits will be required for the importation of lynx products into the 
U.S., and permits will not be required for interstate transport and 
commerce in skins that are properly tagged with valid CITES export 
tags.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that Environmental 
Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements, as defined under the 
authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be 
prepared in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 
4(a) of the Act. A notice outlining the Service's reasons for this 
determination was published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 
(48 FR 49244).

Required Determinations

    The Service has examined this regulation under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 and found it to contain no information collection 
requirements for which Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval 
is required. Persons exporting captive-bred Canada lynx may continue to 
obtain permits which are already authorized under 50 CFR part 23 as 
approved by OMB and assigned clearance number 1018-0022.
    The Service invites comments on the anticipated direct and indirect 
costs and benefits or cost savings associated with the special rule for 
the captive Canada lynx population. In particular the Service is 
interested in obtaining information on any significant economic impacts 
of the proposed rule on small public and private entities. Once we have 
reviewed the available information, we will prepare an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis for the special rule and make this 
available for public review. This analysis will be revised as 
appropriate and incorporated into the record of compliance (ROC) 
certifying that the special rule complies with the various applicable 
statutory, Executive Order, and Departmental Manual requirements. 
Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, the ROC is not applicable to 
the listing of the Canada lynx. In accordance with the criteria in 
Executive Order 12866, neither the listing nor the special rule are 
significant regulatory actions subject to review by the Office of 
Management and Budget.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein, as well as others, 
is available upon request from the Montana Field Office (see ADDRESSES 
section).

Author

    The primary author of this document is Lori H. Nordstrom, Montana 
Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, the Service hereby proposes to amend Part 17, 
Subchapter B of Chapter I, Title 50 of the U.S. Code of Federal 
Regulations, as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend 17.11(h) by adding the following, in alphabetical order 
under ``MAMMALS,'' to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to 
read as follows:

Sec. 17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                    Vertebrate                                                           
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special  
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules   
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened                                                           
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Mammals                                                                                                                                    

                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  
Lynx, Canada.....................  Lynx canadensis.....  USA (WA, OR, WA,     (Unless bred in      T                                    N/A          N/A
                                                          OR, ID, MT, ID,      captivity).                                                              
                                                          MT, UT, UT, WY,                                                                               
                                                          CO, MN, WY, CO,                                                                               
                                                          MN, WI, MI, ME,                                                                               
                                                          VT, WI, MI, ME,                                                                               
                                                          NH, NY, MA, VT,                                                                               
                                                          NH, NY, PA, MA,                                                                               
                                                          PA, AK), Canada.                                                                              
Do...............................  ......do............  ......do...........  All captive animals  T(S/A)                               N/A     17.40(k)
                                                                               within the                                                               
                                                                               coterminous U.S.A.                                                       
                                                                               (lower 48 States),                                                       
                                                                               activities as                                                            
                                                                               prohibited or                                                            
                                                                               allowed under                                                            
                                                                               17.31, 17.32,                                                            
                                                                               17.40(k), 17.52,                                                         
                                                                               and part 23.                                                             

                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    3. Amend Sec. 17.40 by adding paragraph (k) to read as follows:

Sec. 17.40  Special rules--mammals.

* * * * *
    (k) Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) population--(1) Prohibitions. (i) 
Except as noted in paragraph (k)(2) of this

[[Page 37013]]

section, all prohibitions of 50 CFR 17.31 and exemptions of 50 CFR 
17.32 and 17.52 apply to the captive Canada lynx population within the 
coterminous United States (lower 48 States).
    (2) Exceptions. (i) The Service may issue incidental take permits 
or permits authorizing activities that would otherwise be unlawful 
under paragraph (k)(1) of this section for education purposes, 
scientific purposes, the enhancement or propagation for survival of 
Canada lynx, zoological exhibition, and other conservation purposes 
consistent with the Act in accordance with 50 CFR 17.52 and pursuant to 
a section 6 cooperative agreement with a State, if applicable.
    (ii) No permit will be required for taking of lawfully obtain 
captive-bred lynx. The Service may issue CITES export permits for 
captive-bred Canada lynx and properly tagged captive-bred Canada lynx 
skins in accordance with 50 CFR part 23. Interstate transport and or 
commerce in skins that are properly tagged with a valid CITES export 
tag would be allowed without a permit. The export or interstate 
transport of skins of Canada lynx taken incidental to otherwise lawful 
trapping for species other than Canada lynx will not be permitted.

    Dated: June 26, 1998.
Donald Barry,
Acting Assistant Secretary, Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 98-17771 Filed 6-30-98; 11:22 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
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