Environment Essay: Say No To Species Reintroduction

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Debating Species Reintroduction

Species reintroduction has become a hotly debated topic, especially in the states experiencing actual reintroduction efforts. The reintroduction of the lynx into Colorado appeals to many who would like to return the area to it's pristine, pre-developed state. However, the actual costs, both financial and emotional, make this program impractical and illogical.

In 1979, researchers decided to investigate the number of lynx still remaining in Colorado (Lynx release). What they came up with wasn't what they had hoped for. After many months of research, the researchers had only found twelve sets of tracks maybe belonging to a lynx (Bryan and Khan). Because of this, Colorado decided to place the lynx on its endangered species list (Wildlife). In an effort to keep the lynx in Colorado, the Colorado Division of Wildlife decided to reintroduce the lynx to parts of central and southern Colorado. The mountains of the San Juan Range were identified as ideal habitat because of the snowy slopes, dark timber and snow shoe hares. Approximately 4,000 square miles stretching from just north of the New Mexico border to Monarch Pass were listed as the potential release areas. Before the first release was planned, Division of Wildlife field studies were conducted in 1998 to see if there were enough snowshoe hares to sustain the lynx. Terrestrial biologist Rick Kann explained, "We recognize that the food source is a concern, and our studies found that the number of snowshoe hares is equivalent to the low end of the snowshoe hare population cycle in its northern range, and that is sufficient to sustain the lynx." (Kann).

The first lynx were finally released in Creede, in February, 1999. (Lynx Release). Each one wore a dual VHF/satellite radio that allowed them to be monitored for movement and mortality. However, within just 2 weeks of their release, four of the eleven lynx had died of starvation (Range). Their deaths may have been unintentional, but hardly accidental. From the time the lynx were first released in 1999, up to the latest release in 2003, approximately 46, of the 129 released lynx, have died from starvation. (Shenk). Twenty-five died in 1999, 20 in 2000, and thus far, one death has been reported in 2003 (Shenk).

Enthusiasts for the lynx reintroduction feel that these losses are acceptable. Nina Fascione, of Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, says, "Our position is very firm that it's a tragedy when an animal gets killed.

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