Although it’s likely you’ll never see one in person, the lynx are most certainly out and about, roaming Colorado’s mountainous landscape. Some Colorado Ranches do have lynx wander onto their property. There was a time in history when these beautiful creatures were nonexistent in our state. The lynx population dropped to a staggering low in the early 1900’s due to European settlers poaching the animal for its thick fur to sell internationally. The lynx was placed on the endangered species list in 1975, a year after the last lynx was trapped by a hunter in Vail. Big game hunting took this animal away from our land for some time. But in the 1990’s, Colorado Parks & Wildlife began devising a plan for their reintroduction.
Colorado Ranch Wildlife - The Elusive Lynx
Reintroduction of the Lynx to Colorado
The reintroduction plan for the lynx took shape in 1999. Colorado Parks & Wildlife brought 41 lynx from Canada and Alaska to Colorado. These 41 lynx were then released wearing monitoring radio and satellite collars. This was an easy way to track their breeding, population, and monitor the geographic span of their habitat. Their range covers approximately 20 square miles. Over roughly seven years, 218 lynx were successfully introduced back into Colorado. These cats now largely reside in the desolate San Juan Mountains and have begun to live that wonderful Colorado life again. It is now estimated that somewhere between 150-250 cats are roaming our back country, an area many people wish they could call home.
Facts About The Lynx
Lynx typically weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. They have a very similar stature to that of the bobcatwith a few distinct differences. Their feet are much larger, since having larger feet allows them to move swiftly through packed snow. A lynx tail sports a solid black tip and is about half the size of its relatively large hind foot. Their coat is greyish in color during the winter months, and turns to more of a reddish tone during the summertime. Their distinct ear tuft is an easy way to identify a lynx.
Their main source of nutrition is the snowshoe hare, but they also feast on other small mammals like mice. They breed in the winter and, after only nine weeks of gestation, the female lynx gives birth to a litter of around four kittens.
If you spot a lynx while strolling around on your ranch, here a few tips to avoid conflict:
- Do not approach the animal if it is near a kill or toting around its young.
- Do not offer Lynx or any other wild animals food.
- Never run from a Lynx, it has a natural instinct to chase.
- Try to appear larger in size, as this may frighten it which would in turn cause it to flee.
- Never turn your back or take your eyes off the animal when it is nearby.
- Speak calmly, but loud as you slowly back away.
- If the animal has not regressed after all of this, then be more assertive by shouting, raising and flailing your arms in the air. If you have anything that could be thrown at the cat, this would be a good time to do it.
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