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Lynx Research
Lynx Research

Evaluating Options to Monitor Canada Lynx Reintroduction in Colorado

Led By

Jake Ivan

Study Area


Project Status


Research Objectives

  • To evaluate options to monitor the long-term success of lynx reintroduction efforts.

Project Description

In 1997, Colorado Parks and Wildlife began a large-scale effort to reintroduce lynx into the state with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining population of lynx. Four years after the last lynx was released into the state in 2006, CPW deemed the initial lynx introduction effort a success. Research focus has now shifted towards determining the long-term success of the reintroduction. 

Researchers cannot use traditional methods to estimate abundance of lynx populations because the animals move extensively, exist at low densities, and can be difficult to capture. Instead, this project aims to monitor lynx population trends by using presence/absence data to estimate the proportion of the landscape occupied by lynx.  This proportion should trend up or down as lynx abundance moves up or down.

From 2009 to 2010, researchers tried various methods of detecting lynx in areas where they were known to be present. This work showed that snowtracking surveys conducted by snowmobile were the most efficient means to detect lynx. However, such surveys can only occur in roaded areas. For surveys in wilderness areas, researchers determined that remotely triggered wildlife cameras were the most efficient method for detecting lynx. 

Based on data collected from field research in 2009-2010, researchers determined that a sample of 50 sample units would need to be surveyed annually in the San Juan and South San Juan Mountains in order to be able to detect meaningful trends in lynx occupancy in the region. 

Work will be completed by CPW in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. Additionally, other ranges throughout the state will be surveyed on a rotating basis such that when the monitoring effort is at full strength, annual data will be collected in the Southwest to monitor trends in the population, and periodic surveys will be conducted elsewhere to determine the extent of the population in the state.  

Associated Publications