U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
The Canada Lynx
What is a Canada lynx?
The Canada lynx is a secretive, forest-dwelling
cat of northern latitudes and
The Canada lynx is a medium-sized cat,
similar to the bobcat. It has longer legs
and very large well-furred paws,
impressive adaptations for
maneuvering through deep winter snow.
It also has long tufts on the ears and a
short, black-tipped tail.
What is the range of the lynx?
The historical and present North
American range of the Canada lynx
includes Alaska, Canada, and many of
the other northern 48 States. Therefore,
it is difficult to determine either the
historic or current location of resident
lynx populations. The range of the lynx
includes the following 14 States:
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana,
Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Michigan, New York,
Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine
(see accompanying range map).
What do Canada lynx eat?
Lynx are highly specialized to hunt
their primary prey, the snowshoe hare
(Lepus americanus). The lynx’s long
legs and large feet act like snowshoes so
they can effectively track and catch
hares. In fact, in most places, lynx are
so tied to snowshoe hares that lynx
populations rise and fall in cycle with
snowshoe hare numbers. Lynx also will
eat mice, voles, and birds.
What kind of habitat do lynx require?
Older, mature forests with downed
trees and windfalls provide cover for
denning sites, escape, and protection
from severe weather. Lynx feed
primarily on snowshoe hare, which live
in dense thickets of younger trees and
In the Great Lakes area and the
northeastern United States, lynx
habitat is forest that is a mix of
evergreens and hardwoods, such as
maple and birch. In the Rocky
Mountains and Cascade Mountains,
lynx live in the spruce/fir forests of the
What is threatening the lynx?
Canada lynx likely have never been as
abundant in the lower 48 States as they
were in northern Canada and Alaska
because there is less lynx and snowshoe
hare habitat at the southern part of the
The lynx occurs predominantly on
Federal lands, especially in the West.
The Service concluded that the threat
to the lynx in the contiguous United
States is the lack of guidance to
conserve the species in current Federal
land management plans. The agency is
working with other Federal Agencies to
conserve lynx habitat.
What is being done to protect the lynx?
Because forests are constantly
changing, the lynx habitat of today may
not be lynx habitat in the future
without careful planning. It is
important that current forest
management is undertaken in a way
that will provide for and sustain lynx
habitat in the future.
Agencies are reviewing lynx habitat
needs across the landscape and
cooperating with each other to ensure
that lynx habitat is maintained or
The Forest Service has signed a Lynx
Conservation Agreement to promote
the conservation of lynx and lynx
All photos by Corel Corp.
habitat on Forest Service lands.
Additionally, the Bureau of Land
Management and the National Park
Service also are developing lynx
The Forest Service also is undertaking
several analyses to amend their forest
plans to incorporate direction designed
to conserve the lynx. These actions will
provide immediate benefits for lynx.
What can you do to help lynx?
Educate yourself about planned
activities in lynx habitat. Your support
of efforts that will benefit lynx is
Report lynx sightings.
Report cases of lynx poaching or
other illegal activity in lynx habitat.
The cooperation and coordination of
private citizens, industry, State,
Federal, and tribal groups will be
necessary to recover Canada lynx and
ensure the lynx remains a special and
unique part of our wildlife heritage.
For more information, contact:
Montana Field Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
100 N. Park Avenue, Suite 320
Helena, Montana 59601
or visit our lynx web site at:
by Cherie Ziebart
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