It could take two years or more to finish a long-delayed recovery plan for Canada lynx after a judge ordered the federal government to move forward with the work, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official said Friday.
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The snow-loving wild cats were listed as a threatened species in 2000. After the wildlife agency repeatedly missed its own deadlines to start work on a recovery plan, environmental groups sued last year in federal court in Montana.
Siding with the plaintiffs, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy gave officials 30 days to propose a schedule for completing the recovery plan.
Molloy said the history of the case raised skepticism about the agency’s ability to get the work done without court intervention. Federal officials previously had pledged to initiate recovery plans in 2007, 2011 and, most recently, by the end of this year.
“The stutter-step approach taken by the service raises the concern — even the certainty — that if a deadline is not in place, a new impediment will continually prevent the development of a recovery plan for the lynx,” Molloy wrote.