Part of long-term recovery plan
Ten Canada lynx were recently captured in Canada and relocated to the Colville Confederated Tribes reservation as part of a project to move at least 50 of the cats to the reservation in the next five years to promote lynx recovery in the region.
The project began last year with the release of nine lynx on the reservation in the Kettle Range mountains.
Biologists with the Colville Confederated Tribes began trapping this year in early October and ended in early November, capturing and relocating the 10 adult lynx during that month, according to a news release from the Confederated Tribes.
In Canada, lynx are not listed as a threatened or endangered species so it is legal to trap them there. In Washington state, Canada lynx are listed as an endangered species by the state and as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and can be trapped only under state and federal permits.
The Confederated Tribes have partnered with Conservation Northwest, the Upper Columbia United Tribes, Okanagan Nation Alliance and other groups to conduct the Canada lynx recovery project.
Dave Werntz, science and conservation director for Conservation Northwest, said lynx numbers have been low in the Kettle Range due to historic fur trapping. A survey commissioned by Conservation Northwest showed a substantial amount of habitat in the Kettle Range that could support lynx recovery, he said.
“The Kettle Range was also identified by federal biologists a few years ago as one of six core areas essential to the continued persistence of lynx due to the extent of suitable habitat, connection to British Columbia, and quality snow and prey conditions,” Werntz said.
After capture in Canada, the lynx were examined for overall health and body condition, and fitted with an ear tag and GPS satellite collar before being transported from British Columbia to Washington.
The GPS collars allow biologists to monitor the relocated lynx on a daily basis, said Rose Piccinini, a wildlife biologist for the Confederated Tribes. “It’s amazing to document how they are utilizing the landscape. As expected, the majority of the lynx dispersed along the backbone of the Kettle Crest.”
During the first year of monitoring, two males and two females returned to Canada, and one female then traveled south again, Piccinini said. Over the summer a female lynx reproduced and biologists are using cameras to verify survival of the kittens and monitor the female and her young this winter.