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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Rocky Mountain Success Story: Canada Lynx Returns

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

The Canada Lynx has returned to the Rockies!

This reintroduction in Colorado is one of the most successful of a threatened species to date. It’s also a great model plan for future efforts.


The story starts all the way back in 1999, when the Colorado Parks and Wildlife began the reintroduction process. They introduced 96 lynx from Alaska and Canada into the San Juan Mountains to kick off the effort.

The next year, in 2000, we listed the lynx as a federally threatened species. This put protections in place for the lynx to help protect the species and its’ habitat. A recovery plan was also put into place.

By 2003, we were already seeing progress. 16 native kittens were born that year alone.

In 2004 that population increased to 39. By 2006, over 200 of these medium-sized cats had returned to Colorado’s landscape.
And In 2010, a third generation began with the birth of 141 new kittens.

Colorado is still home to some of the original reintroduced lynx, now adults. These wild cats are now part of a community comprised of first and second-generation lynx and native-born offspring. It’s hard to know exactly how big the overall population is now, but estimates range from 200 – 300 throughout the state of Colorado.

Lynx populations are doing well, but the tracking process is not over. CPW is still working to track these fascinating creatures using different techniques, including placing outdoor cameras along trails, snow-tracking, and genetic sampling.
With winter coming, the lynx faces uncertainties due to snowy conditions and climate change, but their future is much brighter today than thirteen years ago!

For 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has been very successful in stabilizing populations of species at risk, preventing the extinction of many others, and conserving the habitats upon which they depend.

All Americans can take pride in the fact that, under the Act, the bald eagle, Tennessee purple coneflower, California condor, Okaloosa darter, and black-footed ferret have all been brought back from the brink of extinction. 

For more information on this story and other stories celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, head on over to our website.

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