Monday, December 15, 2008

is that a lynx I see?

So a cool thing happened the other day. Visitors wandering Capitol Gorge in Capitol Reef National Park reported a dead bobcat. The Chief of Resources (Dave) and the Chief Ranger (Scott) went down to take a look-see, and sure nuff, there was a dead and disemboweled bobcat. Probably a mountain lion kill.

Well, in the process of checking it out, they noticed a collar on the little cat's neck, indicating that it was likely part of a study. Ooh, curious. And upon calling the number on the tag, these two Park employees were in for quite the surprise: turns out the "bobcat" was in actuality a lynx--a creature thought never to wander a desert environment such as this southern Utah section. Ooh, curiouser!

This particular lynx was part of the Colorado Lynx Reintroduction Project, which has been releasing the endangered animals into the wild from Creede, Colorado (cute little town), over the past decade. The cool project has its latest update here (August 2008, in pdf format), which is pretty interesting to read.

The lead researcher, Tanya Shenk, drove to the Park to pick up the cat and give an impromptu presentation to very interested Park employees the very next day. Everyone, including the decidedly unscientific me, was quite curious about this unusual event. Neat, neat stuff.

So there you have it. Can lynx be found in desert lands? Yes. Have they wandered around the mountainous areas of southern Utah? Yes. (We got to look at maps that track the cats via satellite and plane fly-overs.) Are they really beautiful little animals with enormous paws and tails that have a black tip, although only on the top? Yes!

This has been your educational tidbit for the day. Hope it was good for you... ;)

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