2017 Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship

geoffroy's catThe Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship from the Wild Felid Research and Management Association (WFA) provides financial aid to a graduate-level university student conducting research on wild felids in the Americas. The scholarship is awarded in early summer. The recipient(s) receive $1,000 and are recognized in the WFA’s newsletter, the Wild Felid Monitor. Applications are evaluated based on: demonstrated need for financial aid; participation in a research project that aims to improve our understanding of wild felid biology, management and/or conservation; and undergraduate and graduate GPA.

We will begin accepting applications for the 2017 scholarship January 15, 2017. All application materials must be received by the Scholarship Chairperson by MARCH 30, 2017. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

More details and to apply see http://www.wildfelid.org/legacy.php

A Win For Bobcats in New Hampshire

posted in: Cats of North America | 1

bobcatCONCORD, N.H.— The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department today withdrew a proposed administrative rule that would have opened the first bobcat hunting and trapping seasons in the state since 1989. Today’s announcement responds to concerns raised by conservation and animal-protection organizations — including the Center for Biological Diversity and Animal Welfare Institute — that federally protected Canada lynx could be mistakenly shot or ensnared by bobcat hunters and trappers.

“We’re so relieved the agency listened to our concerns, and that New Hampshire’s bobcats and lynx are safe from hunters and trappers,” said Collette Adkins, a Center attorney and biologist. “At public expense, these bobcat seasons would have benefited only the few who’d like to kill these beautiful animals for sport or ship their pelts overseas to China for profit. The state heard loud and clear that people value these cats in the wild and don’t want to see them cruelly trapped or shot.”

New Hampshire has protected bobcats since 1989, after decades of hunting and trapping caused the state’s population to plummet to only 200 animals. Under the state’s proposed rule, hunters would have been allowed to chase bobcats with hounds and trappers would have been able to set unlimited numbers of indiscriminate traps that could hurt or kill endangered Canada lynx.

“We are thrilled with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s decision to withdraw its proposal for a bobcat hunting and trapping season, given legal concerns, opposition by many New Hampshire citizens, and the objection from the legislative rules committee,” said Tara Zuardo, a wildlife attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute. “This decision will prevent much animal suffering, allow the state’s bobcat population to continue to recover, and help prevent harm to federally protected Canada lynx.”

On April 1 the New Hampshire Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules voted 9-1 to object to the proposed bobcat hunting and trapping rule. The legislative committee agreed with conservation and animal-protection organizations that the proposal might violate federal law protecting the Canada lynx. Listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, lynx share the same habitat as bobcat, and the two species of wild cat are very similar in appearance, which could have led to accidental killing of lynx by bobcat hunters and trappers.

No Canada Lynx Recovery Plan Until 2018

CP_LA108-69_2014_203210_lowBILLINGS, Mont. – U.S. wildlife officials revealed Monday that they expect to complete a recovery plan for imperilled Canada lynx in early 2018 — almost two decades after the snow-loving wild cats first received federal protections.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laid out that timetable in court documents filed as part of a federal lawsuit in Montana brought by environmentalists unhappy with prior delays.

Lynx were designated a federally protected threatened species in 2000. Since then, federal officials have repeatedly missed their own deadlines to start work on a plan to help the animals. Officials have blamed budget limitations, other species that took priority and lawsuits that challenged the government’s designation of critical habitat for the animals.

In the Lower 48 states, lynx are rarely seen across a 14-state range that includes portions of the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and the Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon. There is no reliable estimate of its population size.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy last month expressed frustration with the government’s progress on the recovery document and gave officials 30 days to craft a schedule. He said the “stutter-step” approach taken to date by the agency necessitated court intervention.

The lawsuit was brought last year by Friends of the Wild Swan, Rocky Mountain Wild, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and the San Juan Citizens Alliance. They have argued that the government should be pushing ahead on the habitat and recovery issues simultaneously to keep the lynx from edging closer to extinction.

The groups’ attorney, Matthew Bishop, on Monday criticized the latest schedule offered by the government.

“Asking for nearly four additional years to complete a long overdue recovery plan — without any interim deadlines for completing a draft plan or updates to ensure progress is being made — seems unreasonable to me,” Bishop said.

In a written declaration filed with the court, a senior federal wildlife official said the additional time is needed because of budget constraints and staffing issues.

Complicating the work is the lynx’s huge range and the uncertain role that climate change could play in its survival, said Michael Thabault, assistant regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The scale, scope and complexity of this plan factor in our proposed timeline,” Thabault said.

A response from the plaintiffs in the case is due in 15 days.

Canada Lynx Research Using Remote Cameras

Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) detection and behaviour using remote cameras during the breeding season

Shannon M. Crowley, Dexter P. Hodder, Karl W. Larsen
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Abstract

The efficacy of surveys in detecting Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) can vary considerably by geographic area. We conducted surveys using digital passive infrared trail video-cameras from January to April 2013, during the breeding season of the Canada Lynx, in the John Prince Research Forest in central British Columbia. We used snow-track surveys to test the efficacy of our camera surveys. We measured trail camera detection rates by survey week and location and we noted Canada Lynx activity and behaviours recorded by the cameras. The detection rate increased between January and April, reaching a peak of 8 Canada Lynx/100 camera-days in early April. Canada Lynx spent more time at camera sites displaying behaviours such as scent-marking and cheek-rubbing in late March. The combination of both snow-track and trail camera surveys was especially effective, with Canada Lynx detected at 77% of all monitored sites. Depending on survey objectives, it may be beneficial to conduct camera as well as other non-invasive survey methods for Canada Lynx during the breeding season, when survey efficacy and detection rates are maximized.
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Read the full paper Canadian Field Naturalist Vol 127, No 4 (2013)

Texas Ocelot Documentary

texas ocelotsOcelots once ranged from Mexico up into the southern states, including Texas, Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana. Today there are an estimated 50 of these small cats remaining in the USA, including a breeding population found in South Texas on the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. While there have been several ocelot sightings in Arizona recently, all of them were wandering males and there is no evidence of their breeding in that state.

Phantom Cat of the Chaparral: Endangered Ocelot is a stunning 30 minute documentary that explains the critical work being done by land owners and biologists to save these cats. Released by the US Fish and Wildlife Southwest Region,  it provides rare footage and tells the important story of what is being done.

An important addition to education efforts for these endangered cats, we’ve added it as a permanent page in our Cat Conservation section.

Give yourself a short break, sit back and relax with the ocelots in Texas

 

Canada Lynx Population Peak

Canada Lynx have been receiving a lot of limelight the past couple of months.

A Colorado photo of two lynx on the roadside went viral, prompting calls to close the highway for the sake of the lynx. In Canada, a pair of lynx were photographed near Banff, AB and three were caught on video in British Columbia. A ski resort in Alberta is alternately closing its runs as reports of a female and her kitten are received.

For an animal that relies on its elusiveness, why are so many being reported this year? Meet the reason.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Dger

Snowshoe hares have a cyclical population which takes between eight and eleven years to go from peak, through decline, and back to peak. The period of abundance usually lasts for two to five years.

Sunspot activity, predator numbers, food availability, parasite load, stress and disease have all been investigated as causes of the cycle. All of these factors likely play a role, with predation and food availability being the most important. Litter sizes vary with the population cycle, with females producing more young during the low phase than during the peak.

canada lynx

Canada Lynx feed almost exclusively on snowshoe hares, and their populations follow the hare cycle. A year or so after the hares have declined the Canada Lynx population crashes, helping ensure the survival rate of the few remaining hares. More will live to fuel the next population rebound, the lynx numbers will follow, and the cycle continues.

Scientists who have examined the fur-trading records of the Hudson’s Bay Company have been able to trace closely linked 10-year cycles of growth and decline in populations of the two species over the past 200 years.

Canada Lynx are currently at the peak of their cycle, and their numbers will slowly drop over the next few years.

Mating occurs during February or March each year, and the young (usually four) are born in April and May, 60 to 65 days later. Female kits may breed for the first time as they approach one year of age, but this depends on the abundance and availability of snowshoe hares and the physical and nutritional condition of the lynx.

Starvation following the rapid cyclic declines in snowshoe hare populations is the greatest single source of natural mortality among adult and yearling lynxes. About 40 percent of the total lynx population may starve to death following a crash in the snowshoe hare population. During the following three to four years, when the hare population is starting to rebuild, lynxes breed, but the kittens die before winter. This suggests that an adult female simply cannot support both herself and her litter when hares are scarce.

This lynx-snowshoe hare cycle is perhaps the greatest example of how intricately nature is balanced. If you live in Canada Lynx country and would like to increase your chances of seeing one, now would be the time to go looking.