Reward for Summit lynx poaching information increased

PHOTO BY TANYA SHENK, COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE. Conservation groups have teamed up to offer a $5,300 reward for information on an illegal lynx killing near Heeney in mid-January.

Conservation groups pitch in $5,300 to increase the reward for information on illegal lynx killing near Green Mountain Reservoir in mid-January

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups have teamed up to increase the reward for information on a lynx poaching near Heeney in mid-January. Six groups pooled money to raise the reward to a total of $5,800.

“The Colorado Division of Wildlife understands that help from the public is critical in solving these kinds of cases,” said  Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton. “We appreciate the assistance of these organizations in stepping forward to help us catch the person responsible for this crime.”

Wildlife biologists picked up a mortality signal from the lynx’s collar Jan. 18. They found the collar and nearby evidence that the cat was killed illegally. The carcass was missing.

The thirteen year-old female, was one of the first  lynx to be released in Colorado when a reintroduction effort started in 1999. Known to researchers as AK-99-F05, she was brought to Colorado from Alaska and was released in the San Juan Mountains.  Over the next several years, she ranged hundreds of miles across Colorado, living for periods of time near Silverton, in Rocky Mountain National Park, and above Cataract Lake in northern Summit County, and crossing Vail Pass at least once.

Tips on the lynx killing can be made anonymously through the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-877-265-6648.

In October 2009, another lynx was found shot to death with an arrow near Silverton, Colorado.  Today’s reward offer is an extension of the same offer that was made for information leading to an arrest in the earlier incident. Since their reintroduction in 1999, at least four lynx have been illegally killed by poachers.

“Lynx are still fighting for survival in Colorado, and this is the second lynx killed by poachers in five months,” said Paige Bonaker, a biologist with Center for Native Ecosystems. “Every lynx that is killed sets back the recovery of this rare wild cat.”  estruction drove the rare cat out of the state.

Human-caused mortality, including poaching and vehicle collisions, is one of the leading causes of lynx deaths in the state.

A total of 218 lynx were transplanted from Canada and Alaska between 1999 and 2006. According to a May 2009 report from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, researchers have documented 155 known mortalities.

From the investigations into the deaths, researchers say 43 of the mortalities are from unknown causes. Sixteen lynx have been shot (another five are listed as probable shooting deaths) Fourteen have been killed by cars, including one on Highway 9 between Frisco and Breckenridge.  Eleven died of starvation, mostly during the early years of the program before the Division revamped its release procedures. Eight died from “other trauma,” seven died of plague and five died from predation by other animals (three additional predation deaths suspected).
The Center for Native Ecosystems, the San Juan Citizens Alliance, Wilderness Workshop, Colorado Wild, Wild Earth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust collaborated to boost the reward for anyone with information regarding the lynx killing. Defenders of Wildlife’s contribution comes from its Endangered Species Reward Fund established in 1997 to bring illegal predator killers to justice.

For further information on the recent lynx killing, please visit the Colorado Division of Wildlife website.

More Summit Voice lynx stories:

Click here to see the full 2009 report in an online pdf document.

Click here for a story about the legal status of protection for lynx in New Mexico.

Click here to read about lynx at Vail Pass.

This story is about how lynx conservation affects management of trails on public lands.


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