Successful reintroduction of the
Lynx were established in Colorado’s high elevation forests prior to European settlement. In the early 1800s, commercial trappers sought the animal’s thick fur, and the lynx population in Colorado dropped rapidly through the late 1800s and early 1900s. With no records after the early 1970’s, it was believed that the species had been extirpated from the state. With the right habitat, could the species once again thrive in Colorado?
In 1999, Colorado Parks and Wildlife brought the first 41 lynx from Canada and Alaska to the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado. The river valleys, rugged mountains, and adequate snowshoe hares provided good habitat in the 5.2 million acre core reintroduction area. Through 2006, a total of 218 lynx were released in Colorado, all fitted with radio and satellite collars. This allowed researchers to monitor movement patterns, survival, male and female proximity during breeding season, and female denning and births.
In 2010, CPW declared that the reintroduction project met all established benchmarks of success. These included high survival rates after release, successful reproduction in released animals and animals born in the wild, low mortality rates, and reproduction rates that are equal to or that exceed mortality rates over an extended period of time.