DOW biologists and researchers believe that the lack of lynx reproduction is most likely due to a decline in snowshoe hare numbers as part of a natural cycle in hare abundance. In Canada, it is well known that the population of lynx fluctuates with the cycles of snowshoe hare population. No formal studies have been conducted to determine if snowshoe hare populations fluctuate in Colorado.
The agency started a study in early 2006. In the spring of 2006, DOW researchers found only four lynx dens and a total of 11 kittens, a large decline from the three previous years. Researchers now suspect that this was an indication that the drop in the snowshoe hare population might have started in late 2005 or early 2006. DOW biologists estimate that at least 125 cats are alive. Trapping operations last winter found that adult animals were in good physical condition. But few of the kittens born in 2005 and 2006 survived.
No new lynx were released last winter because of the low reproduction rate during 2006. Biologists were concerned that adding more cats could disrupt some of the lynx natural social structures or contribute to food-shortage problems.The DOW started planning the lynx reintroduction program in 1997. 218 lynx have been reintroduced. 116 lynx kittens are known to have been born in Colorado.