Return of the Lynx

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 28, 2009 10:00 pm


Lynx are a threatened species that went virtually extinct in Colorado due to logging, trapping, poisoning, and development in the 1970s. A decade ago, wildlife biologists began a restoration effort by releasing over 200 adults from Alaska and Canada in state. However, no kittens had been seen for the past two years.

Encouraging news finally arrived this Spring with sightings of ten newborns across five dens!


Comments (12)

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  1. MadScientist


    I didn’t realize they were almost extinct. I’ve seen very few bobcats but always thought that might be just because they prowl at night and aren’t keen on being around humans.

  2. Christina Viering

    Happy to see the comeback, they are sooo cute!

  3. MadScientist: I’m not sure if this is the bobcat but the Canadian lynx which is a larger cat and more threatened across it’s range. Bobcats and Canadian lynx are both active the most around dawn and dusk along with avoiding people so you’re unlikely to see them unless you’re lucky. Bobcats are common here in Maine but in my entire life I’ve maybe seen one a half dozen times though I see their tracks quite often.

  4. MadScientist

    Thanks Noadi – I thought the wildcat in Colorado would be the same as the one in Arizona. I haven’t seen their tracks frequently either although I’ve seen a lot of deer and javolina tracks and the occasional coyote track and loads of snake tracks.

  5. Jeff

    The Canadian lynx was reintroduced to Colorado in 1999. They first found kittens in 2006, and in 2007 several of the adults were apparently poached. It’s good to see they’ve made up for the ones that were killed, hopefully there are a lot more of them around.

  6. Very cute, but I bet they grow up to be cats.

  7. Linda

    Sunday Snog, and now newly discovered Lynx babies. There’s hope for a brighter future yet!

  8. Bluto

    I live in Chicago, last February Bobcat tracks were found in a Cook County forest preserve! Officials couldn’t disclose the location because my neighbors are filthy animals.

  9. Could someone explain the proper use of the word “extinct”? I mean if these cats are “common” in another part of the country is “extinct” the right word? Is the population described here genetically unique or the same species as the ones that are common?

    I think this is an important distinction for when we oil up a whole “Save the (insert animal here)” campaign. Extinct might have more punch when it is reserved for situations like the condor and the whooping crane not a dimished population island separate from a large self renewing population.

    Just sayin’.

  10. SN

    Chemist: “Extirpation” is a good word for regional extinction.

  11. MadScientist

    @LiberalChemist: good point. “Extinct” means gone the way of the dodo – none left alive on the planet. I had the impression that the kitteh of Colorado was dead and gone and a replacement species of kitteh was brought in from Canada just so there could be some type of mid-sized wild kitteh in there.

    There are numerous examples of specific animal species which have disappeared from some regions but are still found in others and are not believed to be in danger of extinction. Nor would it be surprising if some people genuinely believed a species was doomed to extinction because of local decline while the same species was still thriving elsewhere.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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