No lynx kittens found in Colorado
Vail, CO Colorado
No kittens were found this year in lynx dens by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
The agency called the news disappointed but not unexpected. The drop in reproduction among lynx was likley caused by a decline in snowshoe hare, a main food source for the rare cats, the Colorado Division of Wildlife said Friday.
The decline in hare may be a natural cycle, the agency added.
In the spring of 2006, researchers found only four lynx dens and a total of 11 kittens, a large decline from the three previous years. Researchers now suspect that this was an indication that the drop in the snowshoe hare population might have started in late 2005 or early 2006.
Biologist estimate there are 125 lynx living in the wild and that many of the adults are in good health.But few of the kittens born in 2005 and 2006 survived.
“With the number of lynx currently in Colorado, we believe they could go two or three years without reproduction and still have enough survivors to rebuild the population,” said Rick Kahn, lead biologist for the reintroduction effort. “We’ll continue our intensive monitoring efforts and data analysis and wait to see what happens next year.”
No lynx will be brought from Canada for release in the spring of 2008. No new lynx were released last winter because of the low reproduction rate during 2006.
The state started planning the lynx reintroduction program in 1997; cats were released in Colorado’s southern mountains in 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. A total of 218 lynx have been reintroduced. The cats were brought to Colorado from Alaska and Canada.
A total of 116 lynx kittens are known to have been born in Colorado: 16 kittens in 2003; 39 kittens in 2004; 50 kittens in 2005; 11 kittens in 2006.