No luck for this lynx

  On the morning of June 19, a truck driver hauling road base to the Vail ski expansion reported he had seen what he believed was a squashed Canada lynx on Vail Pass. He had.

A radio collar revealed it was a small, two-year-old female, trapped in British Columbia in December and released into Colorado's San Juan Mountains near Creede, nearly 200 miles south of Vail, in February.

After four other lynx released in early February had died of starvation, Colorado Division of Wildlife officers had recaptured the female, feeding it a steady diet of rabbits until it was in robust health. The lynx was released a second time in late May, and signals emitted from its radio collar indicated that it pushed north at a fast clip.

Activists opposing the ongoing Vail ski expansion have long argued that the Vail area is valuable lynx habitat, and they say the roadkill helps their case.

"The biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service that tagged that area around Vail Pass as a critical (wildlife) corridor has just been validated," says Sloan Shoemaker, a wildlife activist from Aspen. "It bears out the quality of the science he did."

"You always have to be cautious with a sample of one," says the biologist, Gary Patton. But, he adds, "it does lend some credence to what we've been saying about Vail Pass."

*Allen Best

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