Image: Lynx kittens.
Colorado Division of Wildlife vi
Male lynx kittens from the southern mountains near Durango, Colo., are seen in this photograph taken on June 17. Because the eyes of the kittens were not open when this photograph was taken, researchers estimate that the kittens were no more than a week old at the time.
updated 8/9/2006 6:56:47 AM ET 2006-08-09T10:56:47

A lynx born in Colorado has given birth to two kittens, a milestone in the state’s ambitious attempt to reintroduce the elusive cats, researchers said Tuesday.

It was the first documented case of a Colorado-born lynx giving birth since the reintroduction program began in 1999. The cat, born in 2004, gave birth to two males in mid-June.

The news was tempered, however, by a dramatic reduction in the number of births this year. Colorado Division of Wildlife researchers found four dens with a total of 11 kittens, down from 18 dens with 50 kittens last year.

Biologists are puzzled by the decline. Researchers speculated that adult lynx released in Colorado might be disrupting the cats’ social structure and breeding.

Lynx were wiped out in Colorado by 1973, victims of trapping, poisoning and development. More than 80 births have been documented since 2003, and researchers believe the total number of lynx in the state is holding steady at about 200.

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