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wápupxn (lynx) Project

November 19th, 2021

Protection of all parts of the tmixw requires strong collaborations to ensure successful restoration efforts take place and assertion of our responsibilities throughout all parts of the territory.

As part of this commitment the Okanagan Nation Alliance are working with the Colville Confederated Tribes — alongside local trappers, BC’s Ministry of Forests, Land, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and Conservation NW — to move wápupxn (lynx) from the north down to the southern Kettle River Mountain Range on the Reservation of the Colville Confederated Tribes in northeast Washington state. Populations of wápupxn have drastically decreased in the US due to overharvesting, habitat degradation and population fragmentation, and in 2017 the species became federally listed as Endangered. The wápupxn population north of the 49th parallel is currently thriving, which means that moving several animals south will have minimal impacts on the population to the North, while significantly increasing the chances of viability in the Kettle population. With these relocations, the goal is to support transboundary connectivity between wápupxn and improve population numbers and resilience throughout the territory.

In 2017, the ONA led a transboundary initiative work towards better understanding how lynx movements through the Kettle River landscape in Washington State. Three male lynx were collared and released for monitoring. Since then, habitat and feasibility studies have been conducted and findings indicated that the Kettle Range is the most hospitable landscape to support the reintroduction of wápupxn.

More recently, five wápupxn (three females and two males) have been released into the Kettle watershed (south of the border). These wápupxn are stabilized and doing well within an area of suitable habitat and resources. The collaboration ensured that the animals were live trapped and safely transported to their new home. They have been equipped with GPS collars which allow us to monitor their movements and resettlement within their newly reclaimed southern home ranges.

Supported by the Syilx Wildlife and Hunting Working Group and the Natural Resource Committee, the Syilx Okanagan Nation continue to advance and assert our responsibilities through collaborations with partners across the territory. This includes enhancing our partnerships with the Colville Confederated Tribes, and others, to ensure that all parts of the tmixw are protected for generations to come.