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Natural Area Welcomes Lynx Back Home

Tracks discovered in the Great North Woods provide evidence that landscape-scale conservation works.

Three sets of Canada lynx tracts were recently discovered by NH Fish & Game Wildlife Biologists in the Connecticut Lakes Natural Area, on which the Conservancy has a conservation easement.  These tracks provide evidence of what may be the first modern day breeding population of lynx in the state in nearly 70 years and proof that landscape-scale conservation works.  Edith Tucker of the Coos County Democrat wrote about the incredible discovery.  Her article is reprinted below with permission.

3 sets of Canada lynx tracks found in F&G Nature Preserve

Coos Count Democrat – April 20, 2011
By Edith Tucker

PITTSBURG - Evidence of what could be the first modern day breeding population of Canada lynx in New Hampshire was recently documented in the Great North Woods.

Three sets of lynx tracks were photographed and confirmed on Thursday, March 31, by Regional Fish and Game wildlife biologist Will Staats and assistant regional wildlife biologist Jill Kelly Kilborn, both of Region I, in the 15,000-acre Nature Preserve in the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters project.

“What is exciting is that we saw tracks from multiple animals,” explained Staats in a Thursday morning telephone interview. “I’ve seen tracks three or four times previously, so we always keep an eye out for signs of lynx.”

The Nature Preserve shares a boundary with Maine where there is a known breeding lynx population.

The tracks had different patterns, making it absolutely clear that there were three animals, Staats said. At one point, two were walking and the third, running.

Unfortunately there was not enough time, he said, to follow the tracks long enough to find and collect any scat. This would have allowed their sex to be determined and possibly their origins through DNA comparisons with the known lynx population in western Maine, as well as with scat that Staats collected in Bloomfield a few years ago in addition to scat from a roaming female crossing Route 2 in Jefferson a few years ago.

The Canada lynx is a secretive, forest-dwelling cat of northern latitudes and high mountains, according to a description written by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It is a medium-sized cat, similar to the bobcat, but with longer legs and very large well-furred paws, that are impressive adaptations for maneuvering through deep winter snow. The lynx also has long tufts on the ears and a short, black-tipped tail.

Lynx are highly specialized to hunt their primary prey, the snowshoe hare, but also eat mice, voles, and birds. Lynx require older, mature forests with downed trees and windfalls that provide cover for denning sites, escape, and protection from severe weather.

The Connecticut Lakes Natural Area (CLNA) was established nearly 10 years ago as part of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters project that put 146,000-acres under a conservation easement as a working forest.

The 25,000-acre CLNA, originally part of a 171,400-acre private ownership, was specifically identified for its biodiversity and wildlife habitat values. It is owned and managed by the state Fish and Game Department (NHFG) under a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

A key role was played by TNC in the successful completion of the Connecticut Lakes project. Under the conservation easement, the CLNA has a set of management goals and objectives unique to the property. It is divided into two complementary management areas.

The first area, in which the lynx tracks of were documented, is the 14,995-acre Nature Preserve, located east of Route 3.Natural vegetation succession will be allowed to go forward on this tract without any active management, allowing the Fish and Game to monitor naturally occurring changes on the landscape.

The second area is the remaining 10,005-acre Wildlife Management Area, which is actively managed to maintain and enhance a variety of wildlife species and habitats found in the Connecticut Lakes region.



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