Seventy-two lynx, found dead in the Swiss Alps and the Jura Mountains (Switzerland) from 1987–99, were evaluated to determine the cause of death. Seventy-two per cent (52/72) of all animals died because of noninfectious diseases or causes such as vehicular collision and poaching. Eighteen percent (13/72) died from infectious diseases, including some which could have been transferred to the lynx from domestic animals or other wild animals such as panleukopenia and sarcoptic mange. If only radio-tagged animals (included in a monitoring program) were taken into consideration, the percentage of mortality caused by infectious diseases rose to 40%, indicating that infections might be underestimated in randomly found mortality events. We hypothesize that even a few cases of infections in a small population like the lynx, which are additionally threatened by noninfectious causes, may threaten the long term survival of the population.
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Vol. 38 • No. 1