Court Acts Swiftly to Aid Rare Canada Lynx (press release 5.9.14)
In a critical win for the rare and elusive Canada lynx, a federal court in Montana found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 14-year delay in preparing a recovery plan for this threatened species was “unreasonable” and ordered a firm deadline for completing the federally mandated roadmap for recovery.
A coalition of wildlife advocates, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, filed a lawsuit in March 2013 to spur the FWS to complete the required recovery plan for the cat, which was listed as threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in March 2000. By the FWS’ own admission, recovery plans are “one of the most important tools to ensure sound scientific and logistical decision-making throughout the recovery process.”
Yesterday, the Court ruled in the wildlife advocates favor, finding that “The history of this case causes a certain skepticism about the agency's self declared deadlines for initiating recovery planning.” The agency has 30 days to submit a proposed schedule for completion of the recovery plan.
“It’s long overdue,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who represents the coalition. “A delay of a year, two or even three might be reasonable given other priorities or a heavy workload, but not 14. At some point in time, the court has to step in and say enough is enough. Fortunately, that’s what they did in this case,” Bishop added.
"We are pleased that the court recognized how important these plans are to prevent the extinction of lynx," said Arlene Montgomery, Program Director for Friends of the Wild Swan. "Finally the Fish and Wildlife Service can get down to identifying and reducing threats to the cats’ long term survival."
The Western Environmental Law Center is representing Friends of the Wild Swan, Rocky Mountain Wild, San Juan Citizens Alliance, and the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance.