The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has added about 8,000 square miles of forest land in northeastern Minnesota as critical habitat acreage for the Canada lynx. The lynx is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
In 2006, the agency designated nearly 2,000 square miles of critical habitat for the lynx in Voyageurs National Park.
Phil Delphey is a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Minneapolis. Delphey said the new designation requires federal agencies to consider lynx habitat for timber harvesting or any other actions that may impact the animal. Delphey said from a regulatory standpoint, not much will change.
"Those are things that we've been doing all along, and so the critical habitat designation may just kind of clarify it to the public, and it may kind of sharpen our focus on those essential features of lynx habitat," Delphey said. "But it's not a real sharp change or a change in direction."
The new designation includes portions of Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties. In total, the Fish and Wildlife Service added about 39,000 square miles of critical habitat acreage for the Canada lynx in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington.