These are third generation kittens from the original reintroduction-

Third-generation cats mark milestone for state wildlife program. Bob Berwyn. Aspen Times.

This is a happy uptake in the number of lynx kittens.

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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

42 Responses to 10 lynx kittens found in 5 dens in Colorado

  1. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    One predator with a successful reintroduction, three to go…

  2. avatar Vielfrass says:

    Great news!! Bring back a female wolverine to join the male and some lobos.

  3. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    You read my mind Vielfrass. I think some grizzlies are also in order. Unless there still are some there…

  4. avatar Vielfrass says:

    I was in the Weminuche a few weeks ago. Pretty sure there are none there. It would be great to have griz, but it would take large scale mindset change and restriction of development; very tough. Colorado is one of the most progressive western states, so who knows….

  5. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I have just read that grizzlies have been suspected there. It would be neat to see the San Juans restored to their more pristine state.

  6. I am glad to see the lynx is doing well in colorado. I see where the head biologist says they are very close to meeting their population objectives. I was concerned however, about the one biologist who is still putting radio collars on these animals. Using motion activated cameras makes more sense. Let them be!
    Everytime a lynx or wolverine is sighted in the Yellowstone area, there is a stampede by biologists to get grant monies to radio collar each and every one of them. Research on these incredible animals needs to be non-intrusive. Let them be!

  7. avatar steve c says:

    Some good news for a change!

  8. avatar chris says:

    You’d be hard pressed to identify individual lynx by camera trap photos since they don’t have spots like jaguars. A camera trap also only gives you a single location of an animal. A GPS collar will tell you everywhere a cat has been. Which is more effective in mapping critical habitat? Which will let biologists know about dens and allow them to count kittens to mark the project’s progress towards recovery goals?

    The numbers of kittens referred to in this article that we all are rejoicing about would not be known if not for the collars on the adults. Also keep in mind that the original lynx released in Colorado were caught in padded leg-hold traps with offset jaws in Canada. A breeding population in Colorado would not have been possible without the trapping.

    This article brings great news, but a big threat to these cats is the U.S.F.W.S’s refusal to include Colorado in mapping critical habitat for the lynx in the lower 48 because they view this population as unsustainable.

  9. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Chris, why is this population viewed as unsustainable?

  10. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Vielfrass, are lobos the original wolves of the San Juans?

  11. I didn’t say anything about the original trapping. I have a problem with the continued trapping and radio-collaring, which is more about job security than for the benefit of the lynx. The research shows that there is at least a 5% fatality rate when collaring wild animals. I think it is even higher. The jaguar collaring study in Arizona this spring had a 100% fatality rate. Remember Macho B!

  12. avatar chris says:

    ProWolf in WY,
    I’m not sure why but I read it in an article posted earlier on this site. My first thought was maybe because of the special “non-essential, experimental” designation given to reintroduced endangered species but I don’t think that has limited critical habitat for other species. In their press release below USFWS defines critical habitat as land “essential for the conservation of a species” but doesn’t explain the omission of Colorado. They are being sued by groups wanting more areas protected due to climate change

    http://www.fws.gov/news/NewsReleases/showNews.cfm?newsId=A953CB8A-0A91-A120-C59E1BD38E43C712

  13. avatar chris says:

    Larry,
    I respect your consideration for wildlife but disagree with your habit of linking every radio-collar into the seemingly botched Macho B capture and portraying every field biologist as more concerned about job security than wildlife conservation. These folks in Colorado have worked mighty hard to bring the lynx back. What have you and I done for the lynx? I’ve only written letters and commented on Federal register announcements. It was also done at the much maligned state wildlife agency level, which is remarkable when you consider they reintroduced a predator. They should be applauded and encouraged for their work, not be accused of animal cruelty and being in it for the money.

    I also think there’s some kind of disconnect in your enjoying the good news about the number of lynx kittens and your positions. Without radio-collars on females, those dens and kittens would never have been found. How can the camera traps you mentioned identify individual lynx and locate dens?

  14. avatar Jay says:

    Larry “broken record” T.–we all know your stance on collars, how ’bout giving everyone a break? So if you want to make generalizations and stereotype, than wildlife photographers don’t give a crap about animals, all they care about is getting “the” shot, right?

  15. avatar Vielfrass says:

    Prowolf,

    From what i’ve read northern gray and lobos were intermixed in Colorado, with the lobos being predominant in the south. Ted Turner has been a proponent of the reintroduction. If you check out his website I believe there is more information. He wants to release lobos from his ranch in northern NM and let the disperse.

  16. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    That is what I figured. It makes sense that the ones near the Wyoming and northern Utah border would have been the bigger northern wolves but the ones on the New Mexico border and Four Corners area would have been lobos. It would be neat to see if there are any mounted specimens of hybrids between the two. It would also be interesting to see if there are hybrids between the Great Plains subspecies with those in the Rockies. Colorado must have been an interesting “crossroads” with wolf subspecies. Proof that the “Canadian wolf” argument is invalid.

  17. I just read the Colorado Game and Fish reports on the lynx reintroduction and was a little dismayed. Each of those newly found kittens was blood tested, DNA sampled, had a PIT tag injected between their shoulder blades, and was photographed (Some researchers will do anything for the shot.) and handled for some time (up to 30 minutes) away from their mothers. There was some reference to “collars on kittens”. With friends like these, the lynx don’t need any enemies.
    218 radio- collared Alaskan and Canadian lynx have been released into Colorado since the project started in 1997 at a cost of 3.5 million dollars. Yes, each and every lynx released had a radio-collar around its’ neck. All of this has produced 10 kittens 12 years later? Now they want to do a 20 year long radio- collar study on the snowshoe hares that the lynx prefer as prey? Give these poor animals a break and leave them alone.

  18. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Larry, how else are they going to make an accurate study on these lynx? Yes, it sucks that they have to handle them so much but is there really any other way?

  19. avatar Jon Way says:

    Chris, I agree with your points in your above posts. Larry’s unreasonable stance on collars belies their importance. Plus, the biologists in CO have done a great job and have had no collar effects that they have reported – 0%. It is likely that there will be many more litters when hare numbers go up. Larry, many lynx don’t have collars so the 10 number is a minimum. There are probably more, and I bet you would be curious to know the #, but then again they would have to be collared for that to happen unless someone finds a proverbial needle in a haystack.
    Also, an FYI Chris, lynx (and coyotes) can actually be captured in box traps as references in my paper posted below indicate:
    http://easterncoyoteresearch.com/downloads/WayBoxTrap.pdf

  20. Jon
    The ones that die from being handled and collared always get listed under the “unknown” cause of death. I asked one of the wolf biologists this spring in Yellowstone if any wolves were ever killed during collaring operations. He told me that “I don’t know of any”. While reading the Yellowstone wolf reports a week or so later in the park library, I found that they had killed one after fracturing its’ leg with a capture dart. The news of two grizzlies that died in the Yellowstone area this past year, after getting an infection at the dart impact site, gets hidden away in the fine print on the research report.
    Any collared animals that just die later get put in the “unknown ” column or as in the lynx study under “Starved to Death”.
    An animal needs to be at 100% to survive in the wild. An animal handicapped with a large GPS collar is not operating at 100%. Try putting GPS collars on your local high school boys and girls basketball teams and see if it makes them win more games. I would bet against them in every game they played.

  21. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Larry we all know now how strongly you feel about this issue. My question to you is what new methods of research can you think of that would take the place of, and hence, change this type of research. Look at this site:
    http://www.wildtrack.org/

    Maybe you should throw you energy into helping this type of research gain a foothold in the scientific community in the United States and solve this problem. I am doing what I can to help by teaching tracking classes to people who don’t understand how much tracking evidence is unknown by biologists. . most people think that tracking is looking at clear tracks in sand, mud or snow and don’t understand that a trained tracker can see tracks in grass, forest duff, pine needles, gravel, underwater, in leaf debris, etc. An animal can be effectively trailed for long distances with a by people if they can learn what to see. When you see a problem with something like collaring animals it really helps change it if you can find an alternative solution . . and in this case, it won’t be just to leave the animals alone because that goes against human nature doesn’t it?

  22. avatar Maska says:

    In the case of reintroduced endangered species, it is essential to make good estimates of population size, to see if reintroduction objectives are being met. There’s a study underway by Chip Cariappa (Texas Tech) and colleagues that involves testing whether one can effectively estimate the size of the population by collecting and analyzing scat of reintroduced Mexican gray wolves in Arizona.

    The last I heard, samples are still undergoing DNA analysis. It will be interesting to see whether this turns out to be a feasible method for making population estimates, and whether it’s possible to train volunteers to collect the samples–i.e. to handle and document them properly. (Full disclosure: I was one of a number of scat-collecting volunteers for this study in September 2007.)

    http://er.uwpress.org/cgi/content/refs/26/1/14
    (Info on this study begins on p. 14 of the PDF linked on this page)

    I agree with Linda that one way to lessen the dependence of researchers on radio telemetry is to encourage alternative methods of gathering information. Volunteering for studies like this is one way to accomplish that objective.

  23. avatar Jay Barr says:

    Mr. Thorngren’s and Ms. Hunter’s objections to radiocollared animals are noted with respect, but without them much vital data could not be gathered; home range sizes which leads to designation of critical habitat, detection of illegal take and prosecution of violators, etc. If simple tracking, as proposed by Ms. Hunter, could generate this information I’m sure researchers on strapped budgets would employ it. PIT tags are insignicant (not much bigger than the tip of a pen), so those lynx kittens aren’t burdened by them. Capture-related mortalities do occur and should be reported as such, but wild animals might have suffered some sort of non-capture-related injury prior to being collared that also leads to infection and death. Life in the wild is tough and I wish there were no need to capture/handle/collar animals, but REALITY is that without sound, scientific data the fates of wildlife individuals/species will get worse before it gets better.

  24. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Jay, what are PIT tags?

  25. avatar Save bears says:

    PIT tags are injected tags, similar to the identification tags you can purchase for you pets, sorry not Jay, but we used to use them quite a bit..

  26. avatar Jay says:

    I bet Larry would love to have those collar frequencies so he could go in and take pictures.

  27. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Those PIT tags shouldn’t be too much of a problem then. They certainly aren’t going to interfere like the collars might. How long do those say in for?

  28. avatar Save bears says:

    I don’t know of any agency removing them…as they are small and non-threatening to the animals.

  29. avatar JB says:

    “An animal needs to be at 100% to survive in the wild. An animal handicapped with a large GPS collar is not operating at 100%.”

    This simply isn’t so. First of all, very few wild animals function at “100%”, especially when you’re talking about a predator that regular tangles with prey more than 10x its size. PIT tags are great, but they would require multiple captures (for wolves, that would mean a dart, snare, or leg-hold trap); not exactly cheap or popular alternatives (and good luck with the recapture). More to the point, at least as far as I’m aware, most mortality due to collaring occurs as a result of trapping/darting/handling NOT the collar itself.

    On this blog you have Dave Smith/Chuck (whatever the Hell his name is) attacking studies that use hair snags and DNA analysis as too costly on one end, and Larry attacking radio/GPS collars as cruel on the other. Well, if you want management informed by science, then at the very least, you need a method for counting and tracking animals. BTW, how do you propose showing that an species is in need of ESA protections without a method of counting how many animals of that species exist in a particular area?

    This debate about the supposed cruelty of radio/gps collars is, in my opinion, is nothing but BS.

  30. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Jay Barr. . . first I never said I was against radio collars. . I was just suggesting a solution and you said . . . . If simple tracking, as proposed by Ms. Hunter, could generate this information I’m sure researchers on strapped budgets would employ it. Wrong. . most people, especially scientists, don’t know what they don’t know about tracking. Mark Elbroch who wrote a great book on mammal tracking is currently conducting tracking evaluations around the country and last time I talked to his group they said that most biologists are shocked that they flunk the tests the first time. It is an area that needs to be brought to their attention and they need to know that they can learn to track well enough to use it in their work. There is no such thing as “simple tracking” it takes study and determination to learn but the tools are their for anyone who is motivated to do it. Your comments show that you are also unaware of what is possible with good training in tracking.

  31. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Without weighing in firsthand, I think it’s clear where Larry’s ‘bright line’ is at regarding collaring wildlife. How about proponents of collaring ~ Where’s the line at which point putting a collar on wildlife for purposes of research is NOT ethically permissible ? or is there no such standard ?

  32. avatar JB says:

    Brian,

    All University research most pass through IACUC, which governs animal care/use. They determine if research is ethical. Management agencies are another matter entirely.

    Personally, I don’t like management agencie’ use of collars for the purpose of finding and killing wolves. But that has less to do with the ethics of collars and more to do with the ethics (or lack there of) of certain agencies.

  33. avatar JB says:

    For those interested, here is an example of one institution’s animal use policies: http://cflegacy.research.umn.edu/iacuc/guidelines/

  34. avatar chris says:

    Jon Way,
    Thanks for the referring me to your box-trapping article. I had read previously of maned wolves being box-trapped for research in Brazil and wondered if our canids were too wary.

  35. A PIT tag is a small glass tube enclosing a computer chip that is attached to a coil of copper wire that acts as an antenna. They are used extensively for tracking salmon. They respond when stimulated with a activating device. A large amount of information can be stored on the chip before it is inserted into the animal. This information can be retrieved when scanned. The problem is that they have a very short range and need to be very close to the scanner to be activated..
    Some of the folks on here, that love radio collars so much, sound like they are salesmen on commission. Tagging, collaring and other intrusive means of studying wild animals are all part of the “Game Farm” mentality that infects our state and federal wildlife agencies.

  36. avatar chris says:

    Actually the PIT used on mammals is a microchip the size of a grain of rice that is implanted in the animals back. It has no glass tube or copper wire. Its the same one used on pet dogs and cats. Once the animal is caught again as an adult the chip can be read by sliding a reader over it’s back. Usually, it requires the recapture of an animal with the one exception being black-footed ferret kits, where a circular reader can be placed over their burrow and it will read the chip on any ferrets that go in and out.

    Collaring is not part of any “game farm mentality”, its part of a reasonable approach to understand and conserve wildlife. Making baseless accusations is nothing new for you but your insuation that the lynx listed as “starved to death” were actually killed by collaring is beyond the pale. Do you have any evidence? Did you notice those types of mortality occurred only during the first year of reintroduction? Do you understand the lynx-snowshoe hare boom-bust cycle? You dilute your message by crying jaguar and slandering biologists at every turn.

  37. avatar Save bears says:

    Larry,

    Where do you get your information, the tag you described is nothing like I have used ever, of course I didn’t tag fish, but none of the pit tags I have used has a glass tube..or copper wire.

    As far as “Game Farm Mentality” although I agree at times tagging and collaring go overboard with certain species, it is an integral part of sound wildlife science now a days, especially if we are derive the information required and demanded for both listing and delisting under ESA…

  38. Save Bears
    I helped put hundreds of those Glass tube PIT tags in young salmon here in Idaho about 8 or 9 years ago. The copper antenna was inside of the tube attached to the computer chip. We injected them into the salmon’s abdominal cavity after loading information onto the chip. Perhaps the technology has improved. I will ask to see what they are putting in fish the next time I am in McCall.
    As for crying Jaguar, I couldn’t cry about researchers killing these animals if they were not being killed could I? I’ll stop crying when researchers stop killing them.
    The sick bighorn ram that was recently shot by IDFG on the Salmon river after it was observed in close contact with domestic sheep, had a radio collar around his neck that was put there within the past year. In all fairness, it should be checked for signs of capture stress, such as white muscle disease, to see if it became ill from the collaring operation.

  39. avatar Save bears says:

    Larry, we are talking about two different types of pit tags, they do not use the glass tube, copper wire system on mammals, the ones used in mammals are very small and are self contained under the skin, just as the tags they use on pets…so we are talking about different things here.

    To add, I have actually seen tags that has antennas that protruded through the skin of the fish..that of course is quite a bit older technology..

    Most of the biologists I know and have worked with are very caring and don’t want to see harm happen to the wildlife they work with, of course, there is always going to be a rouge that cares more about their place in the pecking order than the animal they study…

  40. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Brian, I would say as long as people are collaring for research purposes it has to be tolerated. Things like investigating population dynamics are important, especially with an endangered species.

  41. avatar chris says:

    Larry,
    Please answer these three repeated questions out of the many that I have asked you but you neglected to answer:

    What is your evidence that the lynx whose mortality is listed as “starvation” were killed by radio collaring or the researchers?

    How can you monitor locate and count dens/kittens, identify individual lynx, and map critical habitat?

    What have you done to conserve lynx in Colorado?

    Thanks.

  42. avatar chris says:

    for the second question I meant to add “without radio collars”

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