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Nature & Wildlife
2015 February
Pg 10 - The Sunshine Express
Long Term Lynx Study Begins
CPW Biologists Starting Long-Term
Lynx Monitoring Project
DURANGO: Biologists and field staff from
Colorado Parks and Wildlife have started a
long-term monitoring program for lynx aimed
at determining how the big-footed felines are
faring in the southern Rockies.
The monitoring effort, which began last fall, will
occur in the San Juan Mountains in southwest
Colorado over a swath of about 14,000 square
kilometers (5,400 square miles). Within the
study area are six wilderness areas: Wemi-
nuche, Uncompahgre, Lizard Head, Powder-
horn, La Garita Mount Sneffels, and South San
¡°Our broad objective with this work is to de-
termine if the general population trend of lynx
is increasing or decreasing in Colorado,¡± said
Scott Wait, the senior terrestrial biologist for
CPW¡¯s southwest region in Durango.
The project is being led by Wait, Jake Ivan,
a CPW mammals researcher, and Eric Odell,
a species conservation coordinator. Ivan and
Odell are based in Fort Collins. Also assisting
with the project are the U.S. Forest Service and
the Bureau of Land Management.
The state agency started reintroducing the lynx
in Colorado in 1999. The high-country cats, na-
tive to Colorado, had not been detected in the
state since the late 1970s. For the reintroduc-
tion effort, lynx were trapped in Canada and
Alaska and released in the San Juan Mountains.
The area was chosen because it has the fewest
number of roads in the state, provides a large
swath of high-altitude forest with good winter
snow cover, and supports a sizeable population
of snowshoe hares-the primary food source for
From 1999 through 2006 the agency released
218 lynx and all were equipped with radio col-
lars to allow the animals to be monitored. Mon-
itoring of the animals and spring den searches
continued through 2010. But by then most of
the radio collars had stopped functioning.
By 2010 the agency had documented multiple
generations of Colorado-born lynx. Biologists
also found that reproduction was steady, lynx
were finding adequate amounts of food and
that the offspring of transplanted lynx had
reproduced and were surviving. Later that year
the agency announced that the reintroduction
was successful.
¡°Reintroducing lynx was one of the most sig-
nificant projects of this agency and it¡¯s impor-
tant that we continue with this follow-up work,¡±
Wait said. ¡°Because the radio collars stopped
working years ago we can no longer intensively
monitor individual animals. Without radio col-
lars, this is the best way to take a look at the
The monitoring program, designed to last 10
years, will begin initially with a two-year pilot
phase that will test the field methods. If the
methodology proves workable the study will
continue. The field work for the study is being
done during winter because that¡¯s the best
time to find lynx tracks and to photograph the
animals. The field work will include the use of
remote cameras and snow-tracking surveys by
field staff.
Within the monitoring area 50 randomly se-
lected plots have been chosen as survey sites.
Each plot is 75 square kilometers (about 30
skat. The hair and feces will be tested geneti-
cally to assure positive identification of the
species and to assemble a database of individ-
ual animals. Field crews will examine the plots
on skis, snow shoes, or snowmobiles.
The winter study period will be from January
through March.
This method of wildlife monitoring is known as
an ¡°occupancy study.¡± Biologists won¡¯t attempt
to count individual animals. Rather, they¡¯ll
examine detection data to determine the
proportion of the study area occupied by lynx.
Using the collected data, biologists will be able
to determine if the population trend is stable,
increasing or decreasing. As the program pro-
gresses, biologists will see if lynx are finding
adequate habitat, food, mates and attempt to
detect any cyclic variations of the population.
In the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska, the
population of lynx trends with the population of
snowshoe hares that have occasional die-offs.
CPW biologists have anecdotal evidence that
snowshoe hare populations also fluctuate in
¡°This type of long-term monitoring program
has never been done in the United States. This
may give us information that no one has ever
had,¡± Wait said
While the study, initially, will be restricted to
southwest Colorado, it might eventually be
expanded to include other areas of the state.
¡°Long-term studies such as this are necessary
to gain a better understanding of wildlife and
the variety of environments in Colorado where
they live. This type of work helps us to sustain
Colorado¡¯s invaluable wildlife resources.¡±
For more information about lynx in Colorado,
Home-Study Hunter Safety Course Offered
In Southwest Colorado
If you are planning to hunt for the first time next
fall you¡¯ll need a hunter education certification.
With the big game license application deadline ap-
proaching on April 7, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is
offering a home-study hunter education course - a
convenient way for prospective hunters to learn
valuable hunting and safety information and to
fulfill the legal requirements.
Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949, who wishes to
hunt must have a valid hunter education card prior
to applying for or purchasing a license.
Using the home-study format, students will com-
plete the knowledge-based portion of the course
in the comfort of their own homes via the internet.
That portion of the course must be completed by
March 13.
Then they¡¯ll complete the skills-based portion of
the course with instructors, 9:30a-2:30p, March
14, at the Ridgway Community Center. The skills-
based portion will include a pre-test, firearms
safety and live-fire exercise, hunter responsibility,
hunting rules and regulations, and other hands-on
learning activities. There is no charge for the con-
clusion class.
¡°Hunter education is also a great way to learn more
about firearm safety, wildlife management and
survival skills,¡± explained District Wildlife Manager
Kelly Crane.
Non-hunters are also welcome to participate in
Colorado¡¯s hunter education programs.
To register for the class call Colorado Parks and
Wildlife at 970.209.2369, or register online at:
Registration deadline is Mar 8. For more news on
Colorado Parks & Wildlife go to:
square miles) which is the approxi-
mate size of a lynx home range. With-
in 32 of those plots, most of which
are inaccessible during the winter,
128 cameras-four per plot-have been
placed by survey crews. The cameras,
which were put in place in the fall, are
motion and heat sensitive and are ef-
fective at photographing animals. Next
summer the cameras will be retrieved
and the images will be examined. The
cameras will then be returned to the
same plots in subsequent years.
The winter snow-tracking work dur-
ing the winter by field staff will be the
most grueling and time-consuming
part of the operation. Crews will visit
the 18 accessible plots three times
every winter to search for lynx tracks,
and genetic samples from hair and
Study Hunter Safety At Home
Brink added that getting your reservation on the
family calendar early ensures summer fun is sched-
uled instead of hoped for.
Plan a getaway this spring or summer at any of
the more than 3,900 campsites and 50 cabins and
yurts located throughout the state at elevations
ranging from approximately 3,800 to 9,400. Check
out all the options at:
Camping fees range from $10 - $26, not including
the reservation fee and park pass. Every vehicle
entering the park, including RVs and towed vehi-
cles, must have a parks pass for each day. Annual
parks passes are $70, daily parks passes are $8 -
9. Visit our website or ask for detailed information
at 303.297.1192.
Campground amenities at many parks include rest-
rooms, full-electrical hookups and shower facilities.
Many parks also offer campsites or cabins for large
groups. Almost 300 campsites are ADA accessible.
Call 1.303.470.1184 or learn more at: cpw.state.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state
parks, more than 300 state wildlife areas, Colo-
rado¡¯s wildlife, and a variety of outdoor recreation.
Like us on Facebook at:
radoParksandWildlife and follow us on Twitter @
For more news about Colorado Parks and Wildlife
go to:
Make Your Reservations
Plan Spring, Summer Camping Now
The latest blast of cold and snow may place
camping low on the New Year¡¯s priority list,
however, Colorado Parks and Wildlife suggests
now is the best time to plan a spring or sum-
mer getaway at Colorado State Parks.
¡°Parks located on the plains such as Jackson
Lake, John Martin, Lathrop, North Sterling and
Trinidad, usually have moderate weather in
early spring,¡± said CPW Reservations Coordi-
nator Mercedes Schwall. ¡°Our most popular
camping sites fill up six months in advance so
planning now could get vacationers a prime
camping spot.¡±
Camping is good for your health too according
to a study by University of Colorado - Boul-
der researcher Kenneth Wright, PhD. The CU
Boulder release stated spending just one week
exposed only to natural light while camping in
the Rocky Mountains was enough to synch the
circadian clocks of eight people participating in
the study, meaning less differences between
morning people and night people. Watch the
video abstact here.
Harmonizing circadian clocks isn¡¯t the only way
camping can help.
¡°Getting outdoors improves my mood and
helps manage stress,¡± said CPW Parks and
Outdoor Recreation Assistant Director Ken
Brink. ¡°Camping at Crawford, James M Robb,
Mancos, Navajo and Yampa or any of the other
State Parks gives our family a place to socialize
and engage in new adventures.¡±
Rescue Dog Demonstration At Ridgway Park
RIDGWAY: Have you ever wondered how a dog can
find someone who¡¯s buried beneath an avalanche?
Or how they can find a lost hiker in the wilderness?
To find out how they do it, and how the dogs are
trained, come to Ridgway State Park, at noon on
Feb. 8, for a fascinating demonstration by Search
and Rescue Dogs of Colorado, and the Telluride Ski
Search and rescue dogs are used every year in
Colorado to assist in search for missing children,
hikers, hunters, snowmobilers, skiers and accident
victims. The dogs¡¯ owners, who are involved in
search and rescue organizations, work with their
canine companions for at least two years to com-
plete training and certification. The dogs and their
owners are trained to spring into action at a mo-
ment¡¯s notice.
Trainers and their dogs will explain the training and
how the animals are used. Then they¡¯ll head out-
side for on-the-ground demonstrations.
The demonstration is free and will be held at the
park visitors¡¯ center. For more information, call the
park at 970.626.5822.
A Fascinating Demo