Colorado Parks and Wildlife Lynx reintroduction program
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Lynx Reintroduction Program
With an aim to establish a significant of Canada Lynx’s population in Colorado, the wildlife division of Colorado re-introduced efforts with the first Lynx let out in February 1999. The following years after 1999, about 218 lynx, caught in the wild from Alaska and Canada, were released within the borders of Colorado (Devineau 525). For this initiative to be a success, it was necessary to do a post-release monitoring exercise in order to critically modify and assess the protocols of release with the aim of improving the chances of survival for the individuals that were released. Under the final protocol of release, the Lynx were fed high quality diet, as they were held in captivity for a period of more than one week.
The main aim of reintroducing the Lynx was to establish a viable, self-sustaining population of the Lynx within the environs of Colorado, a place where scientists felt it provided a suitable and quality for the survival of the Lynx. Moreover, given that Colorado was isolated from the nearby populations, experts determined that initiating re-introduction of Lynx was the most practical option for sustain the species in Colorado. For more than a decade now, the lynx which were introduced have been monitored and followed up by the Colorado Parks and wildlife. In order to monitor the stability, persistence, and distribution of the new Lynx population, a long-term, minimally-invasive, statewide program was developed (Shenk 74). Nevertheless, occupancy estimation that uses both detection and non-detection data for survey to determine the area proportion of the study area is appropriate and feasible. Essentially, such a plan of monitoring requires several visits to samples of units of survey and each individual notes whether a Lynx was not or detected. The information collected during the monitoring visits is used to compute the chances of detecting a Lynx in a certain unit.
While the program is generally as success, it has encountered some barriers to its success. Introduction of Lynx to the environs of Colorado led to other challenges especially on the existing activities on the National Forest, a place where Lynx spend most of their time. The Department of Fish and Natural Resources as well as Wildlife Service have initiated a plan to minimize the accidental capture of lynx by livestock producers and hunters. Together with the US, the Department of Natural Resources is now using the best science to find a solution for land issues. To date, there are only few situations where Lynx’s presence has resulted in changes of land use. However, there is still a potential for such situations to happen. The other barrier to its success is cost. The program of lynx reintroduction is expensive. Initially, in 1999/2000 the costs were paid in terms of donations by the Turner Foundation and Vail Associates. This program costs approximately $350, 000 per year in handling facilities, direct cost of lynx, and monitoring activities (Shenk 86). In addition, there are additional costs encountered for certain personnel which are not included in these values. To ensure that program keeps running efficiently, the CDOW is seeking partners who can actively support these ambitious efforts. For the good of all people who live in Colorado, the CDOW, is given the mandate to manage other non-game species, something that piles additional cost of the program.
In harmony with habitant planning fundamentals, the lynx program incorporated a few concepts to ensure the Lynx survived in Colorado. Some of the essential elements of a habitat include the vegetation type, the ecological niche, and the habitat needs. It is generally known that lynx are associated deep snow and conifer forests which favor their various adaptation mechanisms, and they heavily rely on snowshoe hares (Shenk 67). Lynx occur largely on conifer stands in the Southern Rockies within the zone of sub-alpine. Therefore, this favored the program since the habitat and vegetation type led to positive interactions with the Lynx.
Research studies conducted pertaining to the suitability of the lynx in this ecological niche of Colorado was primarily focused in the state portion to the South. The occurrence of Lodge pole pine in the northern portion is also an important factor to be considered in terms of providing a suitable habitat for the lynx. Little is known about the importance of this type of vegetation; hence it would have been most efficient if the program initiated extensive research to determine its relevance to lynx (Squires 89). This is supposed to be a huge determinant or factor of prediction concerning lynx use, based on the altitude.
Another issues pertaining to habitat needs and niche is the type of vegetation required for the survival of the lynx. Other than the fir/spruce, there are other types of vegetation that occur within the subalpine zone. While little is known about the lynx use of this vegetation types, they may be important serving as travel corridors. Findings from research studies on lynx reveal that they are reclusive hence there are covariates which represent human development. This can serve as important determinants of the habitats that will suit lynx.
Devineau, Olivier, et al. “Evaluating the Canada lynx reintroduction programme in Colorado: patterns in mortality.” Journal of Applied Ecology 47.3 (2010): 524-531.
Shenk, Tanya M. “Post-Release Monitoring of Lynx Reintroduced to Colorado Annual Progress Report for the US Fish and Wildlife Service December 2001 Interim Report-Preliminary Results.” Colorado Division of Wildlife (2001).
Squires, John R., et al. “Combining resource selection and movement behavior to predict corridors for Canada lynx at their southern range periphery.” Biological conservation 157 (2013): 187-195.