Executive summary

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Moen, R., G. Niemi, C.L. Burdett, and L.D. Mech. 2005. Canada lynx in the Great Lakes Region. 2005 annual report submitted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 28 pp.

Executive summary:

We summarize the third year of a project on Canada lynx ecology in the Great Lakes region. The project is designed to address four major questions about this population of Canada lynx: distribution, habitat use, abundance, and persistence. In the first 33 months of this project we captured and deployed radiotelemetry collars on 32 Canada lynx. Each animal was located approximately biweekly after being collared when logistically feasible.

GPS collars have been deployed on 12 of the lynx in this project. Over 12,000 locations were obtained from GPS collars at the end of 2005. GPS collar locations will be fundamental to understanding movements and habitat use of Canada lynx. Ambient temperature and animal activity level is recorded by the collars indicating daily patterns in activity, and also shows how active an animal was when each GPS location was obtained.

Radiocollared females have had kittens in 2004 and 2005, and at least 5 of the 12 kittens known from den visits in 2005 survived until December 2005. Of the 2004 litters, 1 and possibly 2 of the known offspring were alive at the end of 2005. Of the 32 lynx radiocollared by December 31, 2005, 2 died in 2003 and no animals were recovered dead in 2004. We recorded the deaths of 14 radiocollared animals in 2005, one of which had died in 2004.

We finished the third year of surveys for snowshoe hare, the major prey species of Canada lynx. Permanent pellet plots were established throughout the SNF for snowshoe hare. Plots were distributed based on stratified random, systematic, and selective site selection strategies. Many stratified random plots had few or no pellets. The highest pellet density over two years of pellet surveys occurred in young red pine and young upland black spruce cover types. A mark-recapture experiment will make it possible to estimate density of snowshoe hares from pellet plots.

We continue to use the project website (www.nrri.umn.edu/lynx) to provide information to biologists and the general public. The website gets over 1,000 page requests per day. This website is a historical record of the project, lists project goals and accomplishments, and gives information and pictures of each lynx. The annual reports and other publications on the project are or will be available for download. Trail camera images were added to the website in 2005.

We begin the report with a brief chronological summary of Canada Lynx ecology in the Great Lakes region. The project has been supported by several agencies with some common deliverables and some deliverables that varied among agencies. To produce a cohesive, logically organized annual report, we describe the project in its entirety, and we indicate specific deliverables in Appendix 1. We first describe Canada lynx trapping and the deployment of radiotelemetry collars. The radiotelemetry program is very important because each of the major deliverables depends on telemetry data. Next, we address progress made on each of the major questions: 1) distribution, 2) habitat use, 3) abundance, and 4) persistence. Prey species surveys and other aspects of the project are also summarized.

We conclude main sections with the current status and future plans for each topic. Some of the questions will require several years of data collection which was built into the project master plan. With the number of Canada lynx now radiocollared and the number of locations available, data collected on this project were used to assist in management decisions in 2005.

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