Wildlife officials say Canada lynx no longer need special protections in the United States following measures to preserve populations of the snow-loving wild cats.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it will begin drafting a rule to revoke the lynx's threatened species status, which has been in place since 2000.
Some scientists and wildlife advocates have warned that climate change could reduce lynx habitat and the availability of its primary food source — snowshoe hares.
But a two-year review by government biologists concludes lynx populations remain resilient and even have increased versus historical levels in parts of Colorado and Maine.
The animals also are found in Montana, Minnesota, Idaho and Washington state.
Canada lynx are bobcat-sized, but with huge paws to help them navigate deep snow.