Coloradans asked to help spot rare animal
LEADVILLE, Colorado – Skiers, hikers and mountain bikers who use the 10th Mountain Division Huts this winter will be asked to help state wildlife officials track the elusive lynx.
Each of the 30 backcountry huts in the 10th Mountain system has been supplied with kits with written guides for identifying the threatened cat’s tracks. Those who spot tracks will be asked to record the sightings on a form.
As many as 40,000 visitors stay overnight at the 10th Mountain huts each winter on high-altitude treks.
The cabins are at 10,980 feet to 11,700 feet, making them the ideal places to find evidence of lynx that are most often found above 9,000 feet, Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Joe Lewandowski.
“This is an excellent way for us to get a more complete picture of lynx distribution in Colorado, and the more people we have looking for lynx tracks the better picture we will have,” said Tanya Shenk, a lynx biologist for the division.
Since 1999, a total of 218 of the long-haired mountain cats trapped in Canada and Alaska have been released in southwest Colorado as part of a lynx reintroduction program. Since then, 116 lynx kittens are known to have been born in the state.
The lynx released in Colorado were fitted with small radio collars so they could be tracked, but some have been lost or damaged. The newly born kittens don’t have collars.
10th Mountain Division Hut Association http://www.huts.org
Colorado Division of Wildlife: http://www.wildlife.state.co.us
The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com/