Mar 17, 2002
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CONCORD, N.H. -- Professional trackers have identified the tracks of an
endangered Canada lynx in Jefferson, N.H. The trackers made the
discovery while working on a New Hampshire Audubon project studying the
behavior of wildlife crossing US Route 2 in Jefferson and Randolph.

Mark Elbroch, lead tracker for the N.H. Audubon project, and Rose
Graves, project assistant, say the tracks show that the lynx crossed the
highway on the night of January 26, 2006, heading north. The trackers
spotted the cat's tracks in fresh snow the following morning, and followed
the trail leading to and from the road. "Based on the characteristics
of the trail, I'd say this lynx was probably just passing through the
area," said Elbroch, who has tracked professionally for many years.

Canada lynx, which are listed as "endangered" in New Hampshire and as
"threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act, occurred in small
numbers in New Hampshire through the 1960s. Michael Amaral of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service notes that the nearest known breeding
population of Canada lynx is in Maine; he said that some radio-collared Maine
lynx "have been radio-tracked more than 200 miles, so New Hampshire is
well within the dispersal distance of known lynx populations in Maine."
The last documented lynx in New Hampshire was a road-killed animal
found in the early 1990s. Amaral has made a couple of tracking trips in
recent years to follow up on credible reports of lynx in New Hampshire; of
the recent track discovery, he said, "I wish it had been me!"

Amaral describes prime lynx habitat as being primarily forested
landscape with a diversity of (tree) age classes. "Lynx require snowshoe hare,
so habitat like beaver flowages with shrubby edges that support
snowshoe populations are key to their survival. The most important habitat
factor is regenerating forest -- whether it's been harvested or naturally
set back by fire, insect outbreaks, or gaps created by old trees
falling." New Hampshire still has substantial habitat fitting this
description; so, although the entire state is at the southern end of the Canada
lynx's natural range, it's not impossible that they could once again
become established here in small numbers.

At about 3 feet long and 15-30 pounds, Canada lynx are at least twice
the size of the average house cat. They have long, strong legs; short
tails; prominent ear tufts; and long sideburn-style hair on the sides of
their face. Lynx are often recognized by their huge, furry paws, which
help them travel over deep snow.

The US Route 2 and State Highway 115 Wildlife Crossing Investigation
has been funded to date by the Merck Family Foundation. The New Hampshire
Fish and Game Department and the N.H. Department of Transportation have
pending fiscal and Governor & Council requests to continue the N.H.
Audubon project. The purpose of the project is to gain information about
wildlife movements up to, across and away from US Route 2 and Route 115
within the study area. This information can then be used to help reduce
traffic/wildlife conflicts in the area and other parts of Northern New
England with similar habitat and traffic conditions. The project began
in December, 2005, and data will be collected through June, 2006. To
date, more than 3,000 highway crossings have been recorded in the study
area by a combination of deer, moose, coyotes, red fox, grey fox,
fisher, bobcat, otter and now Canada lynx.

New Hampshire Audubon is an independent statewide membership
organization whose mission is to protect New Hampshire's natural environment for
wildlife and for people. It operates five nature centers throughout the
state that provide educational programs for children and adults. It is
also involved in statewide conservation research and wildlife
monitoring projects, protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, and
advocates for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on
New Hampshire Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs,
and publications, call 224-9909 or go to http://www.nhaudubon.org.

N.H. Fish and Game is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and
marine resources. Visit http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Print-quality photos of the tracks may be downloaded at

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