But, can they reproduce?
After reading Erika Trautman's article, "Will listing hurt the Colorado lynx?" (HCN, 1/21/02: Will listing hurt the Colorado lynx?), I decided to do more research about the reintroduction program in Colorado. One of the more crucial points of the article seemed to be buried at the end of the article. Tonya Shenk, head lynx researcher at the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said:
"There has always been a question mark of whether there was ever a viable population of lynx in Colorado. We know that they can survive here, but they might not be able to reproduce here."
To date, biologists at the Colorado Division of Wildlife have no evidence of reproduction in the state since the reintroduction program began in February 1999.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is concerned with growth of ski areas, the number of lynx available for relocation into Colorado from Canada, and the listing of the species. However, there comes a time when the Colorado Division of Wildlife has to consider what really matters. Can the Canadian lynx survive in Colorado?
It seems that in this situation there is a very thin line between helping a threatened species and continually putting an animal into a poor living environment.
The Division has a wonderful opportunity to help the lynx, but there comes a time when they have to say enough is enough. So far, of the 96 lynx that they have brought to Colorado, 40 have died. The leading known cause of death is starvation.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife needs to focus on the possibility of success rather than the availability of more lynx from Canada. Before more animals are brought to Colorado, the Division should make sure that the reintroduction program could work.