A a very short clip of a lynx being released.
By Rachel Webber, CAHNRS intern
|Kittens in a den.|
PULLMAN – An estimated 30 lynx remain in the Pacific Northwest. To boost the number, a WSU team of researchers is working to improve lynx habitat and reintroduce the animals to former environments.
Tracking for years
The team has been tracking lynx for years. But at the end of January, scientists coordinated by Rob Wielgus, associate professor in natural resource sciences, increased trapping to better understand the population.
The team is trapping in Loomis State Forest and the Black Pine Basin in northern Washington. Researchers believe lynx were living in the Kettle Crest area, but are there no longer.
Teams check about 45 PVC-pipe and chicken wire box-traps daily. Lynx are sedated for about 50 minutes, enough time for scientists to slip on a GPS-tracking collar.
Using GPS, the researchers can pinpoint lynx locations.
“From that we can determine the habitats the animals are selecting and what forest conditions they need,” said Ben Maletzke, research associate in natural resource sciences.
“We’d like to establish a series of lynx preserves or lynx habitat islands,” Wielgus said.
Sex and reproducing
Most of the lynx have been males, he said.
“We know we have females, but we want to get a better idea of the numbers,” he said. “We want to know if they are successfully reproducing and having kittens here in Washington State.
“If I can demonstrate that these lynx are viable, that the females are reproducing successfully, then I think we stand a good chance of obtaining lynx from British Columbia for a transplant augmentation in Kettle Crest sometime down the road,” he said.
Hoping for gains
Researchers will continue trapping into March. If all goes as planned, Wielgus said, the team hopes to see significant gains in habitat and population management within the next four years.
The lynx recovery program brings together scientists and funding from WSU, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Washington and Seattle City Light.