Skip to content
Home » Projects » Restoring wápupxn (Canada lynx) to their native lands in Northeast Washington: a translocation project

Restoring wápupxn (Canada lynx) to their native lands in Northeast Washington: a translocation project

In 1993, wápupxn (Canada lynx, Lynx canadensis) were listed as a Washington State threatened species and by 2017 were up-listed to endangered status. In 2000, they were listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Numerous studies have pointed to evidence that the persistence of lynx in Washington State will depend on maintaining the connected network of populations across Washington, and north into British Columbia. The Kettle River Mountain Range, or ‘Kettles’, occupy northeast Washington State and form an important east-west bridge for meta-populations of lynx. With the increase in devastating wildfires in the Okanogan and Cascades ranges, maintaining a source population of lynx in the Kettles could be essential to long-term persistence of the species in the State. Population surveys previously funded by CREOi have documented the presence of lynx in the Kettles, but sightings were extremely rare.

In fall 2021 and winter 2022, Conservation Northwest (CNW) partnered with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CCT), the Okanogan Nation Alliance and others to begin implementing a Canada lynx population augmentation program to restore lynx back to CCT ancestral lands in the Kettles. The program’s goal is to live-trap a total of 50 lynx over five years from healthy southern British Columbia populations and release them on the Colville Reservation. The expected result of our work is the establishment of a breeding population of lynx in the Kettles.

Trapping began in October 2021 and ended for the season in early 2022, with nine lynx translocated. CREO funds supported lynx payments to trappers for qualifying animals, housing for the British Columbia trapping team, and other support essential to the success of our first year. We partnered with seasoned lynx trappers who provided masterful trap line navigation, and we continually improvised and innovated to improve trap performance. While providing efficient and humane care, trapped lynx were fitted with radio collars and ear tags, measured and sampled, and processed for genetic and disease information. Lynx were safely transported across the US/Canada border and released on the Colville Reservation, well-distributed across the Kettles.

Once radio collared individuals were released, an extensive monitoring effort was initiated to record habitat use, daily and seasonal movement, home range establishment, breeding success, and mortality. Results will be assessed each year to determine if distribution, survival and reproduction objectives have been achieved.

Additional coverage of our activities can be found below: