BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials have agreed to craft a new habitat plan for the rare, snow-loving Canada lynx that could include more land in Colorado and other western states where they would be protected.

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The plan for the wild cats must be released by 2024 under a legal agreement with environmentalists announced Tuesday.

Two environmental groups had sued to enforce a prior court ruling that said federal officials wrongly excluded areas of Colorado, Montana and Idaho from a critical habitat designation for the lynx.

Scientists say the animals have rebounded in some areas, but warn that climate change could undo that progress by reducing lynx habitat and the availability of snowshoe that are a key lynx food source.

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