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Habitat for lynx may be expanded

Sep 26, 2013 - The Associated Press

SEATTLE -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a revision in the critical habitat designation for a species of lynx listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The proposal would designate more than 41,000 square miles within the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming as critical habitat for the Canada lynx.

The federal government is asking for public comment on aspects of the proposal, including whether areas where the lynx have recently moved into, including parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, should be added to the critical habitat.

The proposed revision comes after several snowmobiling groups launched unsuccessful legal challenges of the previously designated critical habitat.

As part of the proposal announced Wednesday, federal officials said they considering excluding more than 1,900 square miles of tribal lands within the states of Maine, Montana and Washington.

The new critical habitat adds some land as well, including some private timber lands in northern Maine, as well as Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service land in northeastern Wyoming. The lynx have been protected since 2000.

The Center for Biological Diversity applauded the Fish and Wildlife proposal, saying the extra space could help the rare wildcat whose population has been reduced by trapping and habitat loss.

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