Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mysterious Lynx Explained by Gabby and Seth Yates

       I have never seen a lynx in the wild even though I have spent much of my life outdoors in lynx habitiat. I knew that the lynx prey mostly on snowshoe hare and that their population rises and falls with the snowshoe hare cycles. I knew lynx were cats. After that much, my knowledge was fairly fuzzy and confused with other cat habits. Many myths have been passed along about the habits of lynx and their behavior.

       This week I listened to a presentation by Gabby and Seth Yates on the lynx and it was fascinating. Gabby is doing research for her PH.d and is studying the lynx and it's habit of travelling great distances and how this relates to population cycles . Many other variables come into this equation such as climate change and habitat destruction.

     This team of researchers is trying to live trap 20 lynx in the Nordegg area of Alberta and collar them with a hi tech radio which gives much information on the activity of the animal. Since the lynx population is healthy, they have no great problem to box trap animals. In fact, the lynx have learned the box trap contains supper so the individuals that have been trapped once keep going into the trap. They sit quietly and wait until they are released. Apparently the lynx is a very calm laid back character. They will leave only when they decide you are a threat. Lynx do eat other animals such as deer fawns. However, they're not really sure if the lynx actually kill the fawns. Lynx will also eat prey that may belong to another animal. They think that lynx travel widely in search of food when the snowshoe hare population crashes. What makes the snoeshow hare population crash? Disease? Lack of Vegetation? All this is being considered.

     The audience asked many tough questions and the tougher the questions the more passionate the presenters became about their topic.  Trapping was questioned. The researchers don't see trapping as a problem as the lynx population is considered healthy. They work closely with trappers and as a result gain much more information to add to their study. Trappers take a small piece of lynx hide to give to the researchers so that DNA study can be conducted. In this way they can detect what area lynx came from.

     So it was an interesting presentation which gave a much greater appreciation of the lynx.

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