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Colville Tribe biologists say lynx reintroduction showing promise in its second year

A 30-pound male lynx is released into the Kettle Range area.
Courtesy of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
A 30-pound male lynx is released into the Kettle Range area.

Lynx were once common in the Kettle Range mountains, but due to over trapping, and other environmental factors, have mostly disappeared from the region.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are on their second year of a reintroduction project. Last year they trapped, and relocated nine Canadian Lynx. This year, they relocated ten.

The Lynx are trapped in Canada, fed raw chicken, and driven about three hours to their new home. Each animal is fitted with a GPS satellite collar.

Richard Whitney, wildlife manager for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, said there’s evidence that at least one lynx has given birth to a litter of kittens, and others are successfully adapting to their new environment.

“We expect a lot not to make it and we're actually having quite a few make it,” Whitney said. “(That) also shows that the habitat's there, they’re persisting in the ecosystem, that what we’re doing is working.”

He said the team is watching wildlife cameras to confirm the lynx has had kittens, and if any of her litter survived.

He said a handful of Lynx made their own way back to Canada and the remainder appear to be doing well in the Kettle Range, which is the mountainous area in Southeast Canada and Ferry County.

He said the goal is to relocate 50 Lynx over five years in hopes of creating a sustainable population.

The project is led by the Confederated Colville tribes, but also supported by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several conservation groups.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.