Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 22° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  Outdoors

Colville Tribe releases 10 lynx into Washington’s Kettle Range in ongoing recovery effort

Nov. 8, 2022 Updated Wed., Nov. 9, 2022 at 8:49 p.m.

A Canada lynx, which had been trapped in Canada and transported into Washington state, leaps from its crate near Inchelium, Wash. on Feb. 9. The release is part of an effort to rebuild the lynx population in the lower 48 states. Releasing the lynx are Michael Finley, left, and biologist Ossian Laspa, right.  (Courtesy of Elizabeth Odell)
A Canada lynx, which had been trapped in Canada and transported into Washington state, leaps from its crate near Inchelium, Wash. on Feb. 9. The release is part of an effort to rebuild the lynx population in the lower 48 states. Releasing the lynx are Michael Finley, left, and biologist Ossian Laspa, right. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Odell)

Since October, 10 Canada lynx have been released into the Kettle Range as part of a five-year tribal effort to reintroduce the felines into Washington State.

On Friday, tribal biologists captured an adult male in Canada and released him into the Kettle Mountains Saturday. With that release, the tribe has completed its 2022 lynx capture work, said Rose Piccinini senior wildlife biologist and project lead for the Colville Confederated Tribes. Since the project started in 2021, tribal officials have released 17 lynx.

“It’s one of those fun predator projects that nobody complains about,” she said during a presentation at The Wildlife Society’s meeting in Spokane.

In 2021, biologists captured and released nine collared lynx with a goal of releasing 10 a year, Piccinini said. Two of those animals returned to Canada and biologists retrapped them this fall, thus there are only 17 animals in the Kettles, she said.

That was hardly a setback, as the path those animals took from the U.S. to Canada revealed important information about habitat linkage.

“We’re hoping to protect those critical habitat linkages,” she said.

Jesse Tinsley - The Spokesaman-Review

Unlike last year, the tribe started trapping in October, a shift in strategy that made the process easier, Piccinini said. Last year, the tribe trapped through February but only managed to get nine animals. This year, they reached that goal in slightly over a month.

“I’m really excited about the earlier trapping,” she said. “It’s easier on the cats and it’s easier on my team.”

The project is part of the tribe’s overall goal of preserving – or reintroducing – native species.

“The tribe’s fish and wildfire management plan has a goal of reintroducing and re-establishing wildlife populations that have been removed or extirpated from the reservations,” Piccinini said in a previous interview with the S-R. “That’s always been a goal of our department, to bring back the species and have as natural a landscape as we can.”

In Washington, lynx were listed as a state endangered species in 1993, and, by 2000, a federally endangered one. That came after years of intentional trapping, accidental hunting and habitat loss due primarily to wildfire throughout the western U.S. A 2019 habitat feasibility study identified the Kettle Mountain range as suitable lynx habitat. An additional bonus was they are geographically connected to lynx populations in Canada.

In another step toward the ultimate goal – a self-sustaining lynx population – one of the females in Washington had a kitten, although Piccinini doesn’t know if the kitten survived.

“The big goal as we move forward into the next three years is to document reproduction,” she said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.