Threatened and Endangered Species Canada Lynx Fact Sheet
Threatened and Endangered Species: Canada Lynx Lynx canadensis Fact Sheet
OFFICIAL STATUS: Threatened - Montana.
Threatened species are species that are likely to become endangered within
the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
LISTED: Federal Register Volume 63, No. 58, March 24, 2000.
HISTORICAL STATUS: The Canada lynx once occupied 16 of the contiguous United
States (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania,
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming,
Utah, and Colorado) as well as present day range in mountainous and boreal
forest habitats throughout Canada and Alaska.
PRESENT STATUS: Small populations of lynx remain in only three of the 16
contiguous states originally inhabited: Montana, Washington, and Maine. If lynx
still exist in any of the other lower 48 states, they are very rare.
HABITAT: In the western United States, lynx are found above 4,000 feet in
moist coniferous forests that have cold, snowy winters, and support the primary
prey base: snowshoe hares. The subalpine fir zone, dominated by cover types of
spruce-fir, Douglas fir, and seral lodgepole pine, is the primary vegetation
type occupied. Cedar-hemlock forests may also be important. Mature forests with
downed logs and windfalls provide cover for denning, escape, and protection from
severe weather. Landscapes with a variety of forest age classes and cover types
support large numbers of snowshoe hares for lynx foraging. Recent burns and
cutting units may provide herbaceous summer foods for snowshoe hares and older,
regenerating burns and cutting units provide woody browse for winter snowshoe
hare populations. Cold, dry snow conditions give lynx a competitive advantage
with their long legs and large feet, which act as snowshoes.
LIFE HISTORY: Mating occurs through March and April; kittens are born during
May and June after a 62 day gestation period. Litter size averages 2 (1-4).
Yearling females may produce a litter when prey (snowshoe hare) is abundant.
Lynx are very secretive, nocturnal and solitary. Home range size ranges from
5-94 miles, depending on prey abundance. Populations rise and fall with snowshoe
hare population cycles. Starvation of kittens and trapping are probably the most
significant mortality factors. Red squirrels, small rodents, grouse, porcupines
and beaver are alternate prey taken increasingly as snowshoe hare populations
AID TO IDENTIFICATION: The Canada lynx is a medium sized cat with
proportionately long legs and large feet. There are long tufts of hair on the
ear tips. The tail is very short with a solid black tip. Total length ranges
from 28 to 37 inches; weight from 18 to 23 pounds. The lynx has a lighter, less
spotted fur when compared to a bobcat.
REASONS FOR DECLINE: Over-trapping in the 1980's caused significant declines
in lynx populations. Habitat fragmentation from development and urbanization,
fire suppression and some forest management practices can reduce habitat
suitability. Increased winter recreation has provided packed snow trails, which
allows coyotes and bobcats to compete with lynx.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Contact an NRCS biologist while planning forest management
activities in Canada lynx habitat. Report lynx sightings to the U.S. Fish and
COMMENTS: Forest management activities can be designed to address habitat
needs of lynx and prey species such as snowshoe hare and red squirrels. Some
important considerations include the retention of live trees and downed logs,
cutting unit size and shape, and providing high densities of conifer saplings
and shrubs that protrude through the snow cover.
REFERENCES: Ruediger et. al. 2000. Canada lynx conservation assessment and
strategy. USDA-Forest Service, USDA-Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of
Land Management and National Park Service, Missoula, Montana.
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