The reintroduction of lynx into the San Juan Mountains is shifting its focus to tracking the cats. KRCC’s Katherine-Claire O’Connor reports.
From 1999 until 2010 Parks and Wildlife released 218 lynx into the mountains near Alamosa. Throughout the program they confirmed the birth of two new generations of kittens. Program researcher Jake Ivan says they are using gentler techniques than trapping and tagging like cameras and snow tracking to keep tabs on the animals.
“So you get on snow machines and drive along slowly, and you are just looking for lynx tracks in those units. And when you find them, you back track to pick up a scat so we can send that into the lab and confirm that in fact, those tracks are from a lynx.”
The lanky animal primarily eats snowshoe hairs and red squirrels. It lives at a high elevation and can grow up to thirty pounds. Parks and Wildlife has recently partnered with the National Forest Service to study the impact of motorized and non-motorized sports on the Lynx population and habitat. Findings are expected next winter.