The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Canada lynx is no longer endangered in the contiguous United States and has started the first step to remove it from protection under the Endangered Species Act.
But wait, it's not good news?
Hang on a minute, it might not be good news. Reuters reports that conservationists are alarmed by the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision.
The federal body said the lynx's original listing on the endangered list in 2000 resulted from a lack of protections on the federal lands on which they live.
Resolving these protections, coupled with conservation efforts by scientists and private landowners, should ensure their continued protection, the Fish and Wildlife Service said in a press release.
But activists point out that the government still doesn't know how many of the wildcats there are in the U.S., and removing it from the endangered species list could put them at risk from logging, mining and snowmobiling.
“This spells disaster for lynx,” Michael Garrity, head of Alliance for the Wild Rockies, told Reuters.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recommendation comes despite an assessment in 2016 finding the species would die out in northern U.S.A. by 2100 without federal protection.
But its latest statement focuses more on the immediate future, saying populations will likely persist in the near term (the next seven years) and has confidence the animal should survive through 2050.
The difference between the Fish and Wildlife Department statements under the Obama and Trump administrations have prompted animal groups to decry it as a "political decision."
Canada lynx in Minnesota
Minnesota is one of only a handful of states that provides a home for Canada lynx.
According to the Minnesota DNR, they're found roaming the northern reaches of the state, typically in dense forest.
It's unlikely most Minnesotans will have come across one. They're one of only three native wildcat species found in the state – the others being the cougar and the bobcat.
The bobcat is the most common, but there are only around 2,000 of those living in northern Minnesota.
The Canada Lynx is a similar size to the bobcat, with brown fur and white undersides, long ear tufts and a "pronounced goatee under the chin," the DNR notes.
It's about 3-feet long and adults weigh 20-44 pounds.