The summary below is expanded on in a Technical Report that can be downloaded from the publications page.
NRRI and the Superior National Forest initiated the first year of the three-year National Lynx Survey (NLS) in the national forests of the northern Great Lakes states in 1999. The NLS is designed to be used during snow-free periods (McKelvey 2000), but was modified for use during winter on some survey grids. NLS surveys were performed in the Superior, Nicolet, and Ottawa National Forests in Fall 1999. A second Superior National Forest grid, the Chequamegon and Chippewa National Forests were surveyed in Winter, 2000. No felids were detected in Fall, 1999 or Winter 2000.
In 2000-2001, the Chequamegon grid was performed in the fall, a third grid was added in the western portion of the Superior National forest, and the Chippewa National Forest grid location was repeated in a new location. No lynx were detected in 2000-2001 but 4 bobcats were detected in the Chippewa National Forest and 1 bobcat hit was obtained from the Ottawa and Chequamegon National Forests.
Surveys were completed in 2001-2002 on all grids except the western Superior National Forest with the same seasonal distribution as 2000-2001. No lynx were detected in 2001-2002 but one bobcat detection was obtained from the Chequamegon and 2 bobcat detections were obtained from the Superior National Forest grids. The western Superior National Forest survey was completed the following year (2002-2003) without detection of any felid species.
Although the NLS was successful in other portions of the U.S. lynx range, it did not detect lynx in the northern Great Lakes states. Possible reasons for the lack of success include the uncertain presence of lynx in the region during the first two years of the survey, the patchy nature of lynx-hare habitat in the region that was not compatible with the random placement of NLS transects, or use of a protocol designed for snow-free periods during winter on some of the survey grids. Of particular concern was the failure of the NLS to detect lynx during snow-free periods on the Isabella Superior National Forest grid, an area of consistent lynx presence in recent years. The Isabella Superior National Forest survey grid was completed again in the summer of 2003. Since a telemetry project was in progress on the Superior National Forest, 5 additional NLS transects was added to the Isabella grid to an area included in the home range of a resident male lynx. Initial results suggest that no lynx were detected on the 2003 Superior National Forest (Isabella) grid. The potential lack of NLS detections on the Isabella grid in 2003 is a concern since radiocollars have been placed on three lynx near Isabella area as of Jan. 2004 and a snowtracking protocol detected several lynx in the area in March 2003.