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Monday, February 2, 1998 Published at 12:11 GMT



Despatches


In the United States, wildlife officials are continuing their campaign to re-introduce rare or endangered species into remote parts of America's West. In a week that Mexican grey wolves were released into a national forest in New Mexico, Colorado announced plans to bring back the lynx, a cat-like animal that disappeared from the state almost 25 ago. Jason Dasey reports from Denver:

In Colorado, like the rest of America's fast-growing western states, nature and man often strike an uneasy balance. Many birds and animals have disappeared over the past few decades, including the lynx, an unusual cat-like creature with large ears and feet, which was last seen in Colorado in the early 1970s.

The state and federal governments once encouraged the slaughter of the lynx, but today, they're planning to spend almost $2m to gradually re-introduce the animal within the next three years. Some environmental groups are concerned that the high country, where the lynx will be relocated, is near Colorado's booming ski industry.

But wildlife officials are making their plans with the support of Vail, and other well-known ski resorts. Todd Malmsbury is the director of media relations for the Colorado Division of Wildlife:

"We think it's possible for there to be both ski area expansion and recovery of endangered and threatened species, providing a lot of planning goes in advance.

"It's not a matter of either-or, but it is a matter of making sure that we manage it properly. So we've worked co-operatively with Vail; both us and the official wildlife service and the forest service to try and come up with plans.

"The bottom line is we think that it's possible to go ahead and have some limited development in Colorado for ski areas and other things, while at the same time allowing for endangered species recovery to occur.

"But it's got to be planned out in advance. The bottom line is you have to think of the endangered species right off, not as an afterthought. That's the main message the Division of Wildlife is giving out there."

The lynx will be imported from western Canada, and released at two different sites within Colorado, near large populations of snowshoe hares, the lynx's main prey.

Because the lynx lives in the backcountry, ranches are unlikely to object to its re-introduction. But Colorado's timber industry could face restrictions if the animal is added to the official list of endangered species.





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