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TETLIN: Lynx travels over 250 miles from Yukon Territory, Canada, to Kenny Lake, Alaska
Alaska Region, December 16, 2016
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A lynx that traveled from the Yukon Territory to Kenny Lake, Alaska, looks out from a chicken coop in which it was captured by residents Ralph and Linda Lohse.
A lynx that traveled from the Yukon Territory to Kenny Lake, Alaska, looks out from a chicken coop in which it was captured by residents Ralph and Linda Lohse. - Photo Credit: Dash Feierabend
Ralph Lohse holds the captive lynx after Dash Feierabend anaesthetized and extracted it from the Lohse's coop.
Ralph Lohse holds the captive lynx after Dash Feierabend anaesthetized and extracted it from the Lohse's coop. - Photo Credit: Dana Fjare
The canine teeth of the captive lynx, which was a healthy adult male, were of good length and showed little signs of wear.  This lynx was in prime shape.
The canine teeth of the captive lynx, which was a healthy adult male, were of good length and showed little signs of wear. This lynx was in prime shape. - Photo Credit: Dana Fjare
After being outfitted with a new GPS collar, the lynx is released in a location south of Kenny Lake, Alaska.
After being outfitted with a new GPS collar, the lynx is released in a location south of Kenny Lake, Alaska. - Photo Credit: Dash Feierabend
After release, the lynx beings orienting to its new surroundings.
After release, the lynx beings orienting to its new surroundings. - Photo Credit: Dash Feierabend

In early November of 2016, Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge received a phone call indicating that a lynx was being held in a chicken coop in the Kenny Lake area near Glennallen, Alaska; would they like to assist the owners in relocating it? The lynx reportedly had a collar on it and was possibly a lynx that had been captured on Tetlin NWR in the previous 2 years, during which time the refuge had been studying lynx movements in relation to the snowshoe hare cycle. Tetlin NWR biologists Dash Feierabend and Dana Fjare rushed down from Tok as quickly as possible for fear that the lynx might escape.

 

Upon arriving at the residence of Ralph and Linda Lohse, where the lynx was being held, Dash and Dana were relieved to find the lynx still inside the coop. In fact, it was calmly looking out from behind a small glass window as it basked contentedly in the afternoon sun. After learning that the lynx had eaten a number of ducks and chickens, the biologists understood well why the lynx was in no hurry to break out of its confines. The Lohse’s explained that this lynx had been frequenting their property for at least the past month. Ralph, having trapped lynx in past years and being a keen observer of wildlife, seemed bemused by the animal’s presence until it attacked one of their sheep. The Lohse’s decided to lure the lynx into the coop with bait and managed to close the door safely once the lynx had gone inside.

In order to check the collar and relocate the lynx, it was necessary to anaesthetize it. With the assistance of the Lohse’s, Frank Robbins (ADF&G), and Jesse Hankins (BLM), Dash and Dana were able to subdue the animal and remove the existing collar. The animal was a large, healthy adult male. It turned out that researchers from Trent University had collared the lynx in the Kluane Lake area of the western Yukon Territory in January of 2016. A new GPS collar was deployed on the lynx in order to continue monitoring its movements. The lynx was then released well away from Kenny Lake in the hopes that it would stake out a territory away from residential areas.

After receiving the collar, the Canadian researchers shared the movement path of the lynx that was stored on the collar. Traveling west from Kluane Lake, the lynx followed the northern edge of the St. Elias Mountains and crossed the toe of the Chisana Glacier before turning back east. It then circled the upper portions of the White River until May when the batteries on the collar were depleted. No one will know the exact path the lynx took from White River to Kenny Lake, where it was first seen in October, but the total distance traveled from Kluane Lake was estimated at over 250 miles.

Not long after the release of the Kenny Lake animal, another lynx that was collared near Kluane Lake was harvested by fur trappers in the Kenny Lake/ Glennallen area. The information stored on that collar has not been released yet, but the general movement path is likely to be similar to that of the first lynx due to the imposing barrier that the St. Elias Mountains represent. The reason for these particularly large movements is unknown, but dispersal by lynx is usually precipitated by a search for food and mates. Young males are most likely to disperse in order to establish new territories, but lynx of any age or sex are increasingly likely to disperse as populations of their primary prey, the snowshoe hare, reach a cyclical low approximately every 10 years. These movements are exactly what Tetlin NWR and its collaborators are trying to document over the next decade, attempting to identify common movement paths and corridors throughout interior Alaska.


Instagram page for the Northwest Boreal Lynx Project with photo, video, and project updates
https://www.instagram.com/thelynxproject/
Contact Info: Dashiell Feierabend, 19078839420, dashiell_feierabend@fws.gov
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