Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Survey looks for lynx, wolverine in Utah

By Press release

Last Edit: Feb 15 2010 - 3:17pm

SALT LAKE CITY - The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and Ashley National Forests are initiating a survey in the Uinta Mountains to document the presence or absence of Canada lynx this spring. While surveying for lynx, volunteers will also document any signs of wolverine. The survey will include both Forest Service ground crews and volunteer searches from the air and on the ground for evidence of these species.

"This survey is a learning opportunity for us to know more about the Canada lynx and wolverine that may occur on our forest," says Paul Cowley, Fish and Wildlife Program leader on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. "These species may not be seen by many people in their lifetimes."

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest recently put on a training session, attended by the Ashley National Forest and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources' personnel, on how to properly identify lynx tracks and other signs in order to support the survey effort. Lynx identification/information posts will be placed at snowmobile trailheads throughout the study area to better inform the public and solicit their help in identifying possible tracks. The public is encouraged to report suspected tracks to the Forest Service personnel at the phone number listed on the posters.

The trainer, Nate Berg, Wildlife Biologist on the Heber-Kamas Ranger District, stated "It is currently unknown if native and/or reintroduced lynx or their offspring continue to reside within the Uinta Mountains. These survey efforts will document the presence or absence of lynx and provide information on the habitat and the abundance of prey within that habitat."

The ground based lynx survey will be conducted on established roads by observers on snowmobiles traveling at low speeds. Observers will look for lynx tracks adjacent to the lynx's prime habitat. Any tracks or other sign found will be recorded. Volunteers with the Wildlife Conservation Society and LightHawk will be conducting the air surveys over the Uinta Mountains. As potential tracks are spotted, ground crews will follow-up on the identified tracks to verify them. Surveys will be conducted with minimal impact to either species.

Canada lynx and wolverine historically occurred in the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah and may still occur there. It is known from satellite tracking in 2004 that two of the lynx used to reestablish populations in Colorado had traveled through Utah. Several of them have utilized the Uinta Mountains. The last documented wolverine in Utah was shot near Dinosaur in 1979.

The Forest Service is coordinating this survey with the US Fish and Wildlife Services.


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