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The changes in the distribution of the lynx populations in France were analysed with 3,760 data gathered between 1974 and 2002. Maps were drawn for successive three-year periods on a fixed 3 km × 3 km grid. Lynx were assumed "present" in every 3 × 3 km grid with one or several data, as well as in the eight surrounding grids, i.e. in a total area of 81 km2. In 2000- 2002, the total and permanent lynx range covered, respectively, 8,622 km2 and 5,823 km2 in the French Jura mountains (11,500 km2 and at least 6,000 km2 for the whole French and Swiss Jura Massif). Almost all forested mountain massifs are already occupied by lynx in that region. The total and permanent lynx range covered 3,159 km2 and 1,962 km2 in the Vosges Massif. This small range and still precarious status of the population 20 years after the first lynx re-introductions, should be related to the high mortality rate of the released lynx and low number of founders. Exchanges between the Jura and the Vosges lynx populations could however be expected in the near future. The total lynx range covered 4,365 km2 in the Alps but no permanent area of presence was noticed. The regular increase in the number of islets of presence and the progressive colonization from the north towards the extreme south of the Alps suggested an insufficient observation pressure rather than the absence of any established population in the French Alps. In the future, the status of these three reintroduced populations should probably be comforted by exchanges between the Jura and the Vosges mountains and the Jura and the northern Alps.
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