Two trapping partners had a trapline of only two bobcat traps in the Idaho Panhandle's West Cabinet Mountains. They had each set one trap. Imagine their surprise on January 29 when they walked up to the first set and discovered, not a bobcat, but a lynx in the trap. The trappers knew just what to do. They called Idaho Fish and Game to report the non-target capture.
It just so happens that Idaho Fish and Game had recently started their own effort to capture and collar lynx and wolverine in the Panhandle as part of the Multi-species Baseline Initiative (MBI). MBI is a collaborative effort of over 15 organizations collecting information on 20 Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Idaho and Washington. One of those species is lynx and Fish and Game had capture kits complete with satellite tracking collars, purchased by the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, ready to process the animal.
Idaho Fish and Game immediately dispatched a biologist who worked with the trappers to safely drug and process the lynx. The 17 pound adult female lynx was uninjured by the trap. The satellite tracking collar will allow biologists to determine the animal's home range, assess reproductive status, and provide land managers with important information of how lynx use the local landscape.
Ethical trappers always have the presence of mind and skills to identify their target animal. This is a great example of how trappers can work with natural resource agencies to further wildlife conservation.
After drugging the lynx it was placed on a foam pad for processing.
The foam pad and a sleeping bag help keep the animal warm while it is being processed. The lynx can't blink while under the influence of the immobilization drugs so the eyes are covered during processing.
Long claws, sharp canine teeth, and huge snowshoe-like feet are all part of how lynx have become specialized to hunt snowshoe hares at high elevations.
The eye cover is removed as the lynx recovers from the drugs.
"Processing" the animal involves a physical examination, collecting DNA samples, weighing the animal, fitting the animal with a satellite tracking collar, and attaching a colored ear tag. The ear tag will help us identify the individual if we capture images of it at bait stations.
The lynx was placed back on the snow to finish recovering from the drugs.
As it metabolized the drugs it lifted its head...
...and headed for cover in the nearby forest.
This is the first lynx collared as part of the MBI project. We will refer to her as Lynx, Female, 1.
For short: LF1