- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

FRISCO, Colo. (AP) - After lynx disappeared in Colorado in the 1970s and were reintroduced in 1999, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials can’t say whether the big-footed felines are thriving or in decline.

“We don’t really know. We think they’re doing pretty well out there,” said Joe Lewandowski, an agency spokesman, but “it’s not like deer or elk where we can fly around and see them.”

Biologists tracked the original 218 cats released in the San Juan Mountains with radio collars and searched spring dens for kittens for years. Then in 2010, the researchers stopped monitoring the state’s lynx populations when most of the collars had died.

Parks and Wildlife has started a 10-year monitoring project that will determine population trends using remote cameras, field observations and sample collections.

“This may give us information that no one has ever had,” said Scott Wait, the senior terrestrial biologist for CPW’s southwest region in Durango.

Wait is leading the project with Jake Ivan, a CPW mammals researcher, and Eric Odell, a species conservation coordinator, the Summit Daily reported (https://tinyurl.com/pqsayjp ).

Meanwhile, federal wildlife officials are reviewing threats facing lynx to provide better protection for the animals. Lynx were designated as threatened, or likely to become extinct, under the Endangered Species Act about 15 years ago due to inadequate protections on federal forests.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife announced Jan. 13 that it is seeking input from the scientific community and the general public for a status review of the species and will rely on insights from Colorado.

Slightly larger than bobcats on average, Canada lynx weigh roughly 20 pounds and have longer legs.

The specialized predators are native to Colorado and are adapted for snowy, high-altitude environments.

The study will be in the San Juan Mountains, where cats from Alaska and Canada were reintroduced from 1999 to 2006.

That area was originally chosen because it has the fewest number of roads in the state, provides a large swath of high-altitude forest with good winter snow cover and supports a sizeable population of snowshoe hares.

By 2010, the agency called the lynx reintroduction a success. Biologists found that reproduction was steady, lynx were finding adequate food and offspring of transplanted lynx had reproduced and were surviving.

“Reintroducing lynx was one of the most significant projects of this agency, and it’s important that we continue with this follow-up work,” Wait said.


Information from: Summit Daily News, https://www.summitdaily.com/

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