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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Groups seek to defend lynx against snowmobile lawsuit

Conservation Northwest, The Lands Council, and four other conservation groups filed papers today in a Wyoming district court to defend federal habitat protections for the Canada lynx.

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Jul 27, 2009

Conservation Northwest, The Lands Council, and four other conservation groups filed papers today in a Wyoming district court to defend federal habitat protections for the Canada lynx.  In May, snowmobile groups in Washington and Wyoming filed a lawsuit seeking to nullify a February 2009 rule that designated lynx critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.  The rule identifies habitat that is necessary to support the survival and recovery of lynx populations in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Maine, and allows the Service to protect lynx from harmful activities.

In their lawsuit, the snowmobile groups claimed that the designation of critical habitat for the lynx will impede their ability to construct new snowmobile trails and maintain existing trails on affected lands.  They also claimed that the designation in Washington includes areas no longer critical to lynx because of recent forest fires.

“We’re lucky that Washington is home to these magnificent and rare cats,” said Joe Scott of Conservation Northwest.  “And the science is quite clear – over the long term, lynx depend on fires to create ideal conditions for snowshoe hare – a key prey species.  Today’s fires produce tomorrow’s banquet,” he added.  

“The reason we are asking to get involved in this lawsuit is simple:  like any animal, lynx need habitat to survive,” said attorney Tim Preso of Earthjustice, who is representing the conservation groups.  “In the face of increasing threats from climate change, we need to do everything possible to give the lynx a brighter future.”

“Our last remaining lynx populations live in north-central Washington,” said Mike Peterson of the Lands Council. “Lynx habitat protections ensure that activities, including winter recreation, don’t inadvertently kill lynx or drive them closer to the brink of extinction.” 

The Wyoming district court judge presiding in the case will evaluate the request to intervene.  Earthjustice submitted the legal intervention request on behalf of Conservation Northwest, the Lands Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Wild Swan, and Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.

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