Lynx killed near Silverthorne | SummitDaily.com
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Lynx killed near Silverthorne

JULIE SUTOR
summit daily news
Special to the Daily/AP file photoDivision of Wildlife officials are looking for information about the killing of a female lynx near Heeney earlier this month.
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SUMMIT COUNTY – The Colorado Division of Wildlife is looking for any information related to the recent death of a female lynx near Green Mountain Reservoir, at the north end of Summit County.

Agency officials believe the feline was killed on Jan. 16 or 17.

The Canada lynx is listed as a threatened species in the lower 48 states, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife estimates that no lynx could be found in the state after 1973. The large, gray cats were reintroduced to Colorado in 1999 into the San Juan Mountains, and by 2005, more than 200 of the animals had been released, followed by a number of kitten litters.

The lynx killed near Green Mountain Reservoir earlier this month was one of the first released into the San Juans. The animal, which was 13 years old, often moved between the Vail Pass area and Rocky Mountain National Park. Most recently, it lived above Cataract Lake in northern Summit County. It was last seen along Heeney Road on the afternoon of Jan. 16.

The Division of Wildlife received a “mortality signal” from the lynx’s radio collar on Jan. 18. Officials later recovered the collar, but the animal’s body was missing. Division officers concluded the lynx was likely killed near the spot they found the collar, and that someone had removed the collar.

“At this point, we’re very interested in anybody that might have information,” Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said. “We don’t have enough to know for sure what happened. The collar was there, and the lynx wasn’t. That certainly raises some questions.”

Hampton said it is virtually impossible for a lynx’s radio collar to come off by itself, and that it must be physically removed by a human.

Penalties for illegal possession of a protected species include a year in jail, fines ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, and lifetime suspension of hunting and fishing privileges.

“We take this pretty seriously, especially when it comes to lynx in Colorado. A lot of work has gone into bringing the lynx back into the state, and we have a very big investment in this population,” Hampton said.

The Division of Wildlife estimates that about 100 lynx are now alive in the wild inside Colorado. Most of the animals have remained in the San Juans, and only a couple have made it north of Interstate 70.

“Any loss has the potential to be dramatic – especially a female lynx, which can produce multiple kittens in a year,” Hampton said.

Division of Wildlife officials are eager to gather any information that might help them locate the missing lynx carcass. According to Hampton, information as seemingly minor as a vehicle description or a report of odd behavior is often enough to lead investigators in the right direction.

“We want to put this out and hopefully jog someone’s memory. Maybe somebody involved in this incident bragged to somebody else. We’d sure like to hear from those people,” Hampton said.

The Division of Wildlife accepts tips anonymously and provides cash rewards for any information leading to a conviction. Anyone with information about the lynx death can call the Division of Wildlife office in Hot Sulphur Springs at (970) 725-6200 or Operation Game Thief at (877) 265-6648.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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