Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gabby and Seth Yates Lynx Presentation

       The lynx is a somewhat mysterious and  misunderstood animal. The lynx is seldom seen as it's habitat is away from human habitation so rumors abound about what this animal . The present lynx popualtion is in no danger. The population has a peak cycle every ten years which coincides with peak snowshoe hare population cycle highs. When the snow shoe hare population crashes,lynx will travel widely in search of their favorite prey. They will also eat other species such as deer fawns although it's not proven that they actually pursue and attack the fawns.

       A super presentation by Gabby and Seth Yates cleared up many of the mysteries when they gave a presentation to the Red Deer River Naturalists on Feb. 25. They  introduced us to an animal with all kinds of interesting characteristics. Gabby Yates is doing research for her Ph.D. She has set up a study area centered at Nordegg Alberta. She wants to collar 20 lynx and study their movement and relate it to the population cycles of snowshoe hare, vegetation and climate. Lynx are tremendous travellers. Some travel up to 2500 km. Why? This information is being related to lynx which are trapped in B. C. and Alberta.

     They have found lynx to have some surprising characteristics. These cats are fairly mild mannered and laid back. They only move if they think you are a threat. When Gabby and Seth find lynx in a box trap the lynx are usually calmly waiting to be released. It's nothing to find previously caught and released animals to be back in the same traps waiting to be released again. They have learned that these box traps contain food . Many excellent photographs and videos  of lynx were included in the presentation.

     These two presenters were bombarbed with many questions which they patiently and fully answered as they have a broad knowledge of this animal. They work closely with Alberta trappers have a srong sense of stewardship and they want to ensure that lynxwill continue to thrive on their traplines. They find trappers and trapping to not be a threat for lynx. Trappers turn in a small piece if hide which the researchers do DNA testing on and as a result are able to identify each lynx and who mit's relatives are . If the lynx has moved in from somewhere else, the DNA gives them an idea where it may have come from. 

      Gabby and Seth also use some sophisticated satellite technology to follow their study animals. New light weight radio collars allow them to track the lynx anywhere in North America.

      I have spent many of my years outdoors in lynx habitiat , but I have never seen one. This presentation gave me a realistic experience with a very important animal in our eco system.
     www.ualberta.ca/~gyates/projectlynx