Is it time to issue passports to Canada Lynx?

Canada Lynx are endangered in the state of Montana. In fact, a court ordered Fish and Wildlife Services to hurry-up their schedule for creating a protection plan for the animal, as none has been entered into law since the cats were identified with their new status 14 years ago.

“U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy last month expressed frustration with the government's progress on the recovery document and gave officials 30 days to craft a schedule,” wrote Matthew Brown in an AP story picked up by the Vancouver Sun. “He said the "stutter-step" approach taken to date by the agency necessitated court intervention.”

What struck us as odd is that no one – at least, not in the news article – mentions Canadian Canada lynx. Just across the Montana border is Alberta and British Columbia, where the lynx can be trapped or hunted. They receive absolutely no protections from these activities and populations are said to be “healthy.”

How is it possible that in Montana, Canada lynx are endangered, but only a few kilometres away, they’re fine?

It’s an issue we’re seeing more of these days: disconnect across jurisdictions when it comes to wildlife “management” and associated policy.

The constant is easy to find – policymakers dictating science, rather than science counselling policymakers. For example, wolves in British Columbia are being hunted to protect mountain caribou who are under threat from habitat loss. In one area of Saskatchewan, elk herds are too plentiful; in Alberta, they’re only beginning to recover after reintroduction.

We need policymakers to stop looking at arbitrary lines on maps when it comes to wildlife – we live in a truly remarkable biome – 3.8 million square miles (not including the US) of ecosystems that are all interconnected.

Will we need to issue passports to our wildlife as they cross borders? Or can we finally mature as a country to the point where we look to science – not popular demand – for answers when it comes to our wildlife?

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