DENVER - Scores of fierce-looking lynx roam the remote Colorado high country, 16 years after they were reintroduced to the state. But they're rarely seen or photographed.
Now, state researchers have photographed lynx in the San Juan Mountains, using cameras mounted in trees to study where they live and how they're doing. Eric Odell, manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, estimates 200 to 300 lynx live in Colorado. He hopes to get several years of data to track their range .
What are lynx?
Lynx are medium-size cats with tufted ears, short tails and broad, kitten-like paws. They can be 3 feet long and weigh 30 pounds. Their big paws work like snowshoes. They're widespread in Canada and Alaska but scarcer in the 48 contiguous states, where they're protected under the Endangered Species Act. They primarily hunt hares.
Where are they in Colorado?
Colorado began reintroducing lynx in 1999 after they disappeared from the state in the 1970s because of hunting, poisoning and development. They were captured in Canada and Alaska and released in the San Juans.
Colorado lynx began having kittens by 2003.
They mostly live in forests above 9,000 feet.
Why not just count them?
Counting lynx is expensive and labor-intensive. Individual lynx aren't distinguishable by appearance, so they're captured multiple times to document their status, Odell said. The first year of the study cost about $40,000, Odell said.