Outdoor Briefs

Posted: Friday, December 31, 2004

Volunteers will help whale watchers spot winter migration

PORTLAND, Ore. - Volunteers are at 28 sites along the Oregon coast this week to help spot gray whales making their winter migration to Mexico.

More than 20,000 gray whales averaging about 30 tons each are expected to make their annual move south from their Alaska summer feeding grounds to their winter mating and birthing areas off Baja California in Mexico.

Last year, the volunteers helped nearly 13,000 visitors spot 848 whales off the Oregon coast during the peak of their migration.

The highest whale count during the winter event since record-keeping began 17 years ago was 3,152 in 1994-95. The highest number of visitors was more than 19,000 in 2000-01.

The round-trip migration by the gray whales is one of the longest of any mammal, covering between 8,500 to 11,000 miles.

More lynx kittens found as species reintroduced to Colorado

DENVER - The year ended happily for state biologists with news that six more lynx kittens have been found in Colorado - bringing to at least 36 born this year and 52 since the restoration program began five years ago.

The discoveries, confirmed this month, are the latest positive developments in a program that got off to a rocky start when four of the first five transplanted Canada lynx starved to death and opponents sued to stop release of the cats.

At least 85 of 166 long-haired, tuft-eared cats released in southwest Colorado since 1999 are known to be alive. The whereabouts of about 20 more aren't known because their radio collars have worn out.

About two years ago, state wildlife officials were waiting anxiously for signs that the cats were reproducing, the first major milestone in building a self-sustaining population. The Colorado Wildlife Commission approved releasing 50 lynx a year over three years and possibly a few more after that to boost chances that the cats, loners except during mating season, would reproduce.

Then came news from teams tracking the lynx from air and on foot that at least 16 kittens were found last year followed by 13 litters this year. Further stoking biologists' enthusiasm was confirmation that female lynx released in April 2003 gave birth this year and several that had kittens last year had more this year.

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