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Feature

An endangered lynx resting in the snow.

New links to Minnesota lynx

by June Kallestad, Natural Resources Research Institute

From eNews, January 8, 2004

Once a very rare sight in Minnesota, the elusive Canada lynx has returned, and scientists at the University of Minnesota, Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) are on its trail. They're using new technologies to keep track of their old friends in the northwoods. The lynx is a 15- to 25-pound wildcat added to the Endangered Species Act in 2000. The U's research team is working with the U.S. Forest Service to capture the wildcats in Superior National Forest and install tracking collars on them to learn more about their movements, habitat preferences, and population density. The lynx was added to the Endangered Species Act in 2000. "Concurrent with listing lynx as 'threatened' comes the need to know a whole lot more about the species," says NRRI biologist Chris Burdett. "We want to know: will they stay [and] will they starve? We need to know what they're doing and how they're doing." Over the past year, the scientists have tracked the movements of six lynx with radio collars and, just this month, two more lynx are being followed with the latest Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. "These GPS collars give us up to four locations night and day in all weather conditions," said Ron Moen, NRRI biologist. "They also give us locations in the summer when it is impossible to track lynx when there are no snow tracks to follow. Activity sensors in the collar tell us when the animals are active or resting." The public also informs the researchers' database. Thus far, the team has received about 40 e-mails and calls from people in northern Minnesota who have sighted a lynx. The lynx is a 15- to 25-pound wildcat, most commonly found where its favorite food--the snowshoe hare--is most abundant. The researchers estimate that the lynx population will likely decline as the number of snowshoe hares is predicted to fall over the next few years. The Superior National Forest is using the findings from this study for planning projects and taking into account lynx habitat needs when analyzing revisions for the Forest Plans on the Superior and Chippewa National Forests. To learn more about the study or how to report a lynx sighting, see http://www.nrri.umn.edu/lynx

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