Success of the Lynx reintroduction program
In 1997, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) undertook what was to become one of North America’s most high-profile carnivore reintroductions to date. The goal of CPW’s lynx reintroduction program was to establish a self-sustaining lynx population within Colorado, where biologists felt quality lynx habitat still existed. The observations and lessons from this program – the latest in a long line of successful CPW reintroductions – may be helpful in planning future carnivore reintroductions such as wolverines in Colorado and elsewhere.
Benchmarks for success
To evaluate the short-term success of lynx reintroduction efforts, the CPW established a set of benchmarks for tracking progress toward a self-sustaining lynx population in Colorado:
Reintroduced lynx demonstrate a high rate of survival in the critical first months after release
Released adult lynx demonstrate low mortality rates over the longer term, particularly in good habitat
Lynx remain in good habitat at densities sufficient for breeding
Reintroduced lynx successfully reproduce
Lynx born in Colorado survive and also successfully reproduce (called “recruitment”)
Lynx recruitment equals or exceeds mortality over an extended period of time
Reintroduced lynx have been monitored by the CPW for over a decade to track the population’s progress toward reaching these benchmarks. As of summer 2010, all benchmarks for successful lynx reintroduction have been met.
For more details and a map showing lynx locations, see Lynx Reintroduction Assessment.
Listen to the Colorado Public Radio interview with Colorado Parks and Wildlife Species Conservation Coordinator, Eric Odell.