Kitten caboodle

 

After two kittenless years, Colorado's Canada lynx are breeding successfully again. The Colorado Division of Wildlife, which has reintroduced 218 of the large-pawed cats to the state over the past decade, located 10 new lynx kittens during their annual spring survey this year. That total includes two dens of kittens whose parents are native to Colorado -- a major milestone for the reintroduction effort.

"We are very close to achieving all of our goals,"  DOW lead biologist Rick Kahn said in a statement. "We have had successful breeding and (now) we have had Colorado-born lynx reproduce. Our next goal is to determine if our level of recruitment is exceeding our mortality rates over a couple of years. We are very encouraged by the results this year and are hopeful that these animals will contribute towards a sustaining population for Colorado." 

As I reported this winter, lynx in Colorado face a variety of threats, not least of which is a possible decrease in the population of snowshoe hare, the cat's primary prey. Researchers have speculated that such a decline, though it has not been rigorously documented, may have been to blame for the last two years' dearth of kittens. Hopefully the current kitten crop is a sign that the cats can overcome such obstacles as they spread through the state's high country.