Researching the Ghost Cats from Montana
The lynx is the ruler over the Garnet Mountains of Montana during the winter. During the summer, the power is held by the grizzlies.
The mountain lions can be found in the region as well, but in certain periods they do not stay on the mountains, as they travel down in the search of the deer. The lynx is there to stay, and it has the main task of hunting snowshoe hares, that being most of the food which it consumes during the winter. They are very stealthy, and for this reason they are called the ghost cats. In order to capture the lynxes, the scientists tie the frozen white bunnies to the snowmobiles. They know that the chances for finding and capturing a lynx are very small, but they do it because they know that this is the only way in which they have a chance of catching them. These animals have a flaw, and that is the fact that they are very curious. In order to attract them, the researchers hung CDs on trees, as the lynxes would be attracted by their shining. They also add scents from various animals, and the meat of other animals. These are the best ways of attracting a lynx towards certain regions. If the lynx is trapped, he will have to stay in the cage until the researchers arrive. Usually they will consume the meat which they collected, thus activating the trap, and then they will struggle to get away.
When the researchers arrive, they sedate them, and then they collect blood samples, and add GPS receivers to the animals. So far, they managed to capture 140 animals. The researchers, who work in the mountains this year, have stated that they were not very successful. One of the reasons might be the fact that since the snow is not too big; the mountain lions remained at a higher altitude as well. They managed to catch at least one every year, but for the past 3 weeks, they caught the same lynx: M-120. They say that M-120 is simply indifferent to the fact that he gets caught. He just wants the free food, and he will go for it, even if that means that he will have to spend some time in the cage. However, these animals are magnificent, and one could say that they look more like the abominable snowman, than like a cat. It has a gray face, a thick beard, and it is obvious that this cat was made for the winter. It can blend in with the surroundings very well. When they are trapped they make certain noises, similar to the ones made by the goats. The researchers do not have too much time to waste, as they have to get everything done by March. That is the month when spring starts to set in, when the grizzlies awake from their hibernation, and when the mountain lions start to ascend once again. A few years ago the situation was different, as the researchers had way more time in order to inspect these animals. The snow did not melt too fact back then. John Squires is the leader of the U.S. Forest Service, and he is in charge with studying these animals. He stated that he is amazed by them, as they are unique. They can only be seen at very high altitudes, and that happens if you are lucky, or unlucky, take it how you want. These animals seem to be able to float at certain points, especially when they are chased by a pursuer. When they are in a hurry, these animals will make really long jumps, almost as if they floated for a few meters.
They are also similar to the squirrels from this point of view, as they can jump form one tree to the other with perfect form. These animals do not weigh too much, as they have a regular weight of 30 pounds. There are overfed domestic cats which have a bigger weight than that. However, unlike the house cats, the lynxes have really strong arms, and their paws can do lots of damage. They love the snow, and they usually spend their times in the regions where the snow can be found in abundance. They create burrows in the snow, and they hide in them when they need to sleep and when they need to digest the food. They prefer to eat hares because the majority of the other animals can not be found on the outside, as they hibernate. There are cases when they lynxes migrate from the higher altitudes to the lower ones, where the snow can be found in less amounts. They do that because they have higher chances of capturing an animal down there. Various decades ago, the lynxes could be found in most of the places from the United States of America. Things have changed, as the regions where the lynxes liked to live were affected by the fires and by the other natural events. However the researchers have stated that the population of lynxes keeps on increasing and decreasing. For example in the 1970s there was an increase in the population of the lynxes, and it was believed that the reason for that was the fact that many of them came from Canada into various regions from the U.S.
However, in 2000, the species was listed as being threatened, and it was included in the Endangered Species Act. That is when the majority of the researchers started to become more interested in these animals. They received funds from the U.S government, and in less than two months they discovered that the actual number of these animals was much lower than it was believed. Montana is the most popular region for these animals, but they can also be found in Wyoming, Washington, Minnesota and Maine. The researchers tried to introduce them in other regions as well, but they found out that the animals were not too found with these regions. The bobcats and the mountain lions can live in those areas because they do not care too much about the food which they consume. They eat many things which the lynxes would not eat, and as a result they can live in numerous other regions. The lynxes depend on the hares from the northern region of the United States of America. When the hares can be found in abundance, the lynxes can be found in large numbers as well. It seems that this cycle takes place once every decade. The lynxes are connected to the rabbits, and it seems that they are not willing to consume something else. In numerous cases, the refusal to prey on something else results in their death. The connection between these animals is complicated, but it seems that things will not change. When the rabbit population is on the law, the number of lynxes can be decimated. In one year there can be 40 lynxes per every 50 square miles, and in the following year there can be 4 lynxes per 50 square miles.
The situation is different in the South of the United States of America, as the population of lynxes does not fluctuate as much as the one from the North. One of the reasons is the fact that the population of hares does not fluctuate either because of the external conditions. However, it has been discovered that the biggest threat for the lynxes, just like in the case of many other animals, is the human. They were often hit by the cars, and the humans simply hunted them. The other reasons why they lose their lives are because of the other animals and because of starvation. It seems that the females are more skilled when it comes to surviving, as the majority of the ones who lose their lives are males. The females often travel very large distances in order to find mates, or food, and the males remain in the same region and in many of the cases they die. It has been discovered that the lynxes depend on the weather conditions and on the climate. The hotter the temperatures are, the lower are the chances for the lynxes to survive. It seems that their odds are against them, as the temperatures will get hotter and hotter in the years to come. The hares change their fur depending on the season. During the warmer seasons they have a brown fur, whereas during the winter they have a white fur. However, since the temperatures get hotter earlier, the hares have a white fur even when the snows have passed. Because of that they can be hunted much easier, and thus their numbers lowers. Since their numbers go low, the numbers of the lynxes go low as well. There are many who believe that if the lynxes do not change their eating habits they will become extinct. However, they have stated that it is very unlikely for such a thing to happen, as the animals do not change their eating habits all of a sudden. There are many surprised by the fact that the lynxes did not become extinct. They depend on the hares, and they suffer lots of blows, but despite of all the problems, they manage to survive.
The situation is very complicated for the researchers as well, as they have to spend months on the mountains, camping in the snow, being surrounded by threats. They can suffer from hypothermia, and they can be attacked by wild animals as well. However, the situation for the current researchers is much better than the one of the previous researchers. In order to attach the GPS receivers to the lynxes, the researchers had to use hounds in order to corner the animals, and then they had to shoot them with a sedation dart. One of the biggest problems is finding the lynx cubs. They are very small, so it is way more difficult to find them, as they can hide in lots of places. The researchers have stated that it is very important to find the litters because they indicate the health of the animals. If there are many lynx litters, then it is an indication that the animals are healthy and that they are doing well. Squires said that the lynxes are the pickiest types of cats, when it comes to the eating and to the habitat where they live. During the summer they go to a certain region, and during the winter they go to a different region. The lynxes do not like to live in the forests which have been recently damaged by fire or by logging, as they sense that something is different. The Endangered Species Act stated that these animals need to be protected, so the ones who want to cut the forests in order to construct something, need to be careful to the regions. They can not do it in the regions where the cats are located, because they would have to face the law.
There are many people who are trying to protect the animals, and they have bought large areas of forests which they have turned into natural habitats where the lynxes could live in peace without facing too many natural enemies. Squires stated that he would like to increase the number of the lynxes in the United States of America, and he would like to create a very well established program in order to do it. The problem is that even if these animals are protected by the law there are many people who still hunt them. People go to hunt with the dogs, and the problem is that the dogs can not make the distinction between the lynxes and the mountain lions or the bobcats. Because of that, people often shoo the lynxes instead, and their numbers continue to drop. That is a huge problem, and the researchers would like to get the problem fixed. The lowest the number of these animals is, the harder it is for the scientists to analyze them. They need to research the females the most, but it is harder to do it, as they can not be caught with the same ease as the males. So far, the situation of the lynxes is stable, but the researchers are afraid that it will be different in the years to come, especially if the temperatures will continue to increase, and if the people will be allowed to hunt in the regions where these animals are located.11