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Two Lynx Moving Through Utah

Two Lynx Moving Through Utah

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Two radio-collared Canada lynx released in Colorado have been moving through Utah, with one most recently reported in the north and the other in the southwest.

One moved through the Book Cliffs, the Strawberry Valley and north along the Wasatch Mountains. On Aug. 22, he was near the mouth of Weber Canyon.

"As far as we know, he's still moving north, but we've decided it doesn't work to try to predict (the movement of) these guys," said Brian Maxfield, a sensitive-species biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources' northeastern region.

The other lynx was last reported around Panguitch.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has up-to-date information on the location of both, but does not release it.

"It's mostly to protect these cats from poaching," said Tanya Shenk, lead lynx researcher.

Maxfield has been receiving weekly updates from Colorado on the lynx's location. He said the information could potentially be used to delay prescribed burns or other agency actions if needed to protect the lynx.

Poaching has been the leading cause of mortality in lynx since their reintroduction began in 1999 in Colorado.

Of 36 deaths in which the cause is believed known, 11 were from shooting, nine by starvation and nine by vehicles. Five others died from various natural causes; two other deaths are believed caused by humans. The cause of death is unknown for 20 others that have died.

The Canada lynx is listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. One poacher was caught and convicted of shooting a lynx in 1999, according to CDOW. He was fined $18,000 and lost his rifle, his off-highway vehicle and his hunting privileges in Colorado for life.

The lynx looks similar to a bobcat but with large feet and a large tuft of hair under its chin. The animal is reclusive and sightings are rare, even in southern Colorado, where the population is concentrated. It prefers high-mountain habitat with plentiful populations of snowshoe hare and red squirrel.

Maxfield identified the Uinta Mountains, the Book Cliffs, Cache Valley's northern Bear River range and parts of the Wasatch Front as possible lynx habitat. However, this cat is likely just exploring before heading back for breeding season.

"We've had lynx move in every direction from the release area," said CDOW public information officer Todd Malmsbury.

Lynx released in Colorado have also been tracked to New Mexico, Wyoming and even Nebraska. Most return in the fall, but a litter of kittens was documented this spring in southern Wyoming.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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