DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4)– It’s been 20 years since the Canada lynx was reintroduced in Colorado. Wildlife experts believe the lynx population is stable in the area of the San Juan Mountains.
That population is about 150-200 and biologists believe that lynx have also dispersed to other mountainous areas of Colorado.
A total of 218 lynx were released from 1999 to 2006. All of the animals wore telemetry collars for tracking.
Before Colorado Parks and Wildlife stopped monitoring the collars in 2011, biologists reported that the lynx and some offspring were reproducing and expanding their range.
“Successfully reintroducing lynx was one of the most significant projects Colorado Parks and Wildlife has ever accomplished and it’s important that we continue to learn how the lynx are doing,” said Scott Wait, senior terrestrial biologist in CPW’s Southwest Region, in a statement.
Lynx are elusive and live in remote, high-altitude spruce-fir forests. That makes it difficult to estimate a precise population of lynx. Instead, CPW biologists use occupancy monitoring techniques.
During winter months, biologists survey the ground looking for tracks, scat and hair for genetic analysis. They also try to lure lynx near wildlife cameras with scented feathers. Typically, about a dozen cameras capture a glimpse of a lynx.
“Through our monitoring, the photos and snow tracking, we can look at trends to determine where occupancy is going up or down. We assume that if more areas are occupied by lynx that means the population is doing well and expanding. Conversely, if occupancy is declining, we assume that fewer lynx exist on the landscape and reproduction is not keeping pace with mortality,” explained Eric Odell, species conservation program manager for CPW, in a statement.
CPW would like to know about any lynx sightings and ask for those reports to be filed online at CPW Lynx Sightings.
CPW said lynx live at 8,000 feet and above. Large feet are their distinguishing characteristic. Some people confuse bobcats and lynx as both have pointed ear tufts.