State wildlife agency seeks to release more lynx into wild |

State wildlife agency seeks to release more lynx into wild

DENVER – Wildlife biologists will release six lynx in southwestern Colorado Saturday in ongoing efforts to restore the long-haired, tuft-eared cat to the state.Since 1999, the state Division of Wildlife has released 166 lynx to try to build a self-sustaining population of the native cat. Biologists believe up to 105 of the lynx are still alive. Others have died or roamed out of the research area.The division hopes to release a total of 38 lynx this year to boost the animal’s numbers. Researchers will also be watching carefully to see if any of the kittens born in Colorado start having litters, which would be a major milestone for the program.Accompanying the biologists Saturday will be students from a zoology class at Adams City High School in Commerce City. The trip is part of the agency’s pilot wildlife curriculum for high school students.Bruce McCloskey, director of the division, said the division wants to get students interested in wildlife and the challenges it faces.The lynx program faced several challenges when it started in 1999. Lynx, a federally listed threatened species, disappeared from Colorado by the 1970s due to trapping, poisoning and development. Because Colorado was at the southernmost tip of the cat’s historic range, critics questioned the wisdom of trying to restore lynx to the state.The criticism grew louder when four of the first five lynx released starved to death, prompting immediate changes in the procedures. Instead of releasing the lynx immediately, biologists kept them caged for about three weeks to fatten them up, and freed them later in the winter when prey is more available.In 2000, just one of 55 lynx died of starvation. That strengthened biologists’ belief that the rugged San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado are a good habitat for the animals.Researchers grew even more sure when the transplanted animals started reproducing about two years ago. At least 55 kittens have been born, and this is the first year that Colorado-born lynx are old enough to have their own kittens.Biologists are trying to put radio collars on as many of the young lynx as possible so they can be monitored. Appeals Court gives green light to state building planDENVER – The state Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that lawmakers did not violate the constitution when they approved a pay-as-you-go plan to finance construction of state buildings, paving the way for hospital expansion at Fitzsimons and prison expansion projects.Opponents said the bill violated the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which requires voter approval for multi-year debt, and a state law barring more than one subject in legislation.The appeals court ruled that the bill did not create multi-year debt because the lease-purchase agreements, known as certificates of participation, have to be approved year to year. The court also said it only dealt with one subject, lease-purchase agreements.Denver mayor not planning gubernatorial bid, but won’t rule it outDENVER – Despite a push from fellow Democrats, Mayor John Hickenlooper said he probably will not run for governor next year.But the popular first-term mayor would not rule out the possibility.”I’m not looking at it. I’m not investigating it. I’m just focusing on running the city,” Hickenlooper, a former geologist and restaurateur, told The Denver Post.”If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this business, you never say never,” he said.Court defines adoptive parents’ rights in visitation casesDENVER – Judges must have significant grounds to overrule decisions by adoptive parents about whether grandparents may visit their grandchildren, the Colorado Court of Appeals said Thursday in what is believed to be a precedent-setting decision.The court set strict conditions under which a judge could order parents to give grandparents visitation rights: if the parents were deemed unfit or if the child would be harmed in the absence of court-ordered visitation.Single-engine plane crashesBROOMFIELD – A single-engine airplane crashed and caught fire while landing Thursday at the Jefferson County Airport, seriously injuring the one person on board.The crash, involving a Piper Cherokee that seats four people, occurred at 12:45 p.m., said Mike O’Connor, a Federal Aviation Administration regional duty officer in Seattle.”It ran off the northwest side of the runway on landing, crashed and caught fire,” O’Connor said.The plane was destroyed by the fire, and the victim was take to a local hospital in serious condition, O’Connor said.

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