Two More Lynx Kittens Found

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A Division of Wildlife (DOW) research crew found a second set of healthy lynx kittens snuggled with their mother high in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado Sunday, bringing the known number of lynx kittens born in the state to four this spring.

The lynx, only a few days old, were found on a rugged mountainside at 11,200 feet, the highest lynx den ever found in North America.

“This second set of lynx kittens again represents an enormous milestone in species recovery,” said Greg Walcher, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “To be able to say we actually left Colorado a better place than we found it, we must be willing to do more than just say we care about endangered species. We must be willing to actually work toward recovering these magnificent animals.”

Tanya Shenk, the DOW’s lead lynx researcher said the kittens were within the core area of southwestern Colorado where the DOW has been releasing lynx.

Shenk added that the mother, a British Columbia lynx released in the spring of 2000, and the kittens appeared to be in good health.

The four kittens found in the past week represent the first verified reproduction since the DOW’s lynx reintroduction program began in 1999.

The Division has released 129 lynx, 41 in 1999,55 in 2000 and 33 this spring. All wore radio collars and those released in 2000 and this year had dual collars that emit both radio and satellite signals to allow remote tracking. The cats were captured in Canada and Alaska.

The DOW is currently tracking 63 lynx. Another 45 are confirmed dead with human-caused mortality from gunshots and vehicle collisions the biggest cause of death. The status of the rest is unknown, though at least two have slipped their radio collars and the batteries have run down on the collars of others.

The first pair of lynx kittens, found last Wednesday was in a den underneath the trunk of an Englemann spruce on a steep mountainside at 10,600. Both the mother from British Columbia and the father from Yukon Territory were released April 2, 2000.

The lynx program has been paid for primarily with Colorado Lottery money through the voter-approved Great Outdoors Colorado program and the Division’s Nongame and Endangered Species Checkoff on the Colorado income tax form.

But additional funding is necessary to keep the program operating and the Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation is working to raise money to support reintroduction. To learn more about helping lynx recovery in Colorado, call the Heritage Foundation at (303) 291-7238.