On Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule (pdf) revising the critical habitat designation for the contiguous United States distinct population segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) and revising the boundary of the Canada lynx DPS. The revised critical habitat designation consists of approximately 38,954 square miles of critical habitat in five units in Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming.

The Service’s final rule also rescinds the existing State-boundary-based definition of the Canada lynx DPS and replaces it with a definition that extends the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) protections to the lynx “where found” in the contiguous United States. This extended protection recognizes the lynx’s long-distance dispersal capability and tendency to occur in areas well outside of its typical habitats to ensure that the species receives the ESA’s protection wherever it occurs in the United States.

The revisions are intended to fulfill the Service’s obligations arising under two separate settlement agreements to address issues raised by two courts regarding the previous critical habitat designation.