Kittens great news for the missing lynx

Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists made important and welcome discoveries this spring.

They found 10 lynx kittens in dens in the Colorado high country.

These were the first lynx kittens found in Colorado since 2006. What’s more, four of them are second-generation natives, the offspring of lynx females that were also born in Colorado.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Colorado’s first efforts to transplant lynx — which were once residents of our mountains — to this state. Beginning in 1999 and through 2006, 218 lynx were captured in Alaska and Canada and moved to Colorado.

But the long-term success of the program was always predicated on the ability of the lynx to reproduce and reach a self-sustaining population.

That possibility began to look grim after 2006, when a decline in the number of snowshoe hares, which are the lynx’s primary food source, cut the number of kittens that were born and survived.

Biologists don’t know for sure if any were born in 2007 and 2008, because the tracking collars on some of the lynx have either stopped working or fallen off. But they know there were no kittens those years among the lynx they could track.

So the discovery of 10 new kittens this spring — including the four, second-generation natives in two separate litters — is heartening evidence that the elusive cats may eventually be able to maintain a healthy population on their own in these mountains they once called home.


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