Thursday, February 04, 2010

Colorado: Reward for lynx killer arrest hits $5,800

Killing Endangered Canada Lynx Is Illegal

Alan Gathright, 7NEWS Content Producer

POSTED: 12:36 pm MST February 3, 2010
UPDATED: 1:23 pm MST February 3, 2010

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. -- A reward has grown to $5,800 for the arrest of whoever killed an endangered Canada Lynx near Silverthorne last month.

"Hoping to raise the stakes and expose the lynx poachers," six conservation groups said Wednesday they're adding $5,300 to the $500 reward currently offered by the Colorado Division of Wildlife's Operation Game Thief program. Lynx are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and killing one is illegal under federal law.

“Lynx are still fighting for survival in Colorado, and this is the second lynx killed by poachers in five months,” said Paige Bonaker, staff biologist at Center for Native Ecosystems, one of the contributing groups. “Every lynx that is killed sets back the recovery of this rare wild cat."

Bonaker pointed out that lynx had to be reintroduced to Colorado after trapping and habitat destruction drove the rare cat out of the state.

The 13-year-old female lynx was one of the first to be released in Colorado when the reintroduction project started in 1999.

State wildlife officials had been using a radiocollar to track the wildcat as it moved north from the San Juan Mountains to Vail Pass and into Rocky Mountain National Park. The lynx had recently been living above Cataract Lake in the Gore Range when its collar transmitted a mortality signal on Jan. 18.

DOW officers later retrieved the collar but the carcass of the cat was not recovered. Evidence gathered in the area showed the lynx was likely killed nearby and its collar discarded.

"These secretive cats are already imperiled by ski area expansion, logging and road building in their forest homes, and numerous other threats," said Ryan Bidwell, executive director of Colorado Wild. "The last thing they need is to be shot down by criminals."

“Our world is enriched when lynx again roam the wild and are free from persecution,” said Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. “Coloradoans are proud of the reintroduction effort that has restored lynx to our mountains.”

"The Colorado Division of Wildlife understands that help from the public is critical in solving these kinds of cases," said Randy Hampton, Division of Wildlife spokesman. "We appreciate the assistance of these organizations in stepping forward to help us catch the person responsible for this crime."

Anyone with information about the poaching is asked to call the Division of Wildlife's Operation Game Thief line at 877-265-6648. Callers can remain anonymous and the reward is available to anyone who provides information that leads to a conviction.


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