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Lynx | Endangered Species Series


Lynx (Lynx canadensis)

Quick Facts:

Status: Threatened

Height: 2 feet

Weight: 10 - 25 lbs

Length: 2.5 - 3 feet

Lifespan: up to 15 years

Habitat: Boreal forests

The Canadian lynx has similar features to the bobcat, but there are distinguishing characteristics. Bobcats have shorter ear tufts, the tip of the tail is black on the top side and white underneath, and the bobcats legs are shorter with smaller feet. The lynx lives mostly in the northern states along the Canadian border, while the bobcat ranges within the entire lower 48 states.

As a mid-size carnivore, the lynx plays an integral role in the ecology of their habitat. They hunt smaller prey species that have high reproductive rates, thus keeping those populations under control. The lynx requires a mixed habitat of young forests with thick vegetation for their hunting and older forests with full canopy and sufficient coverage for denning. By protecting the lynx, we are also protecting those habitats that are continuously threatened and some of the most pristine.

Lynx are specialized hunters targeting snowshoe hare that make up the majority of their diet. The population of lynx can only be sustained where there is an adequate number of snowshoe hare. In Alaska and Canada, the total population of lynx fluctuates in relation to the number of hare.

A generally solitary animal, the lynx typically hunts and travels on its own. They are a little more active by night than they are during the day. As hunters, they actively walk, flush, and chase their prey. By using resting or hunting beds, they wait for their prey to come close and then give chase.

THREATS

Lynx are often hunted for their pelts and their populations are managed for the fur trade. Due to warmer winter temperatures and lower snow depths, the range of the eastern coyote is expanding and threatening the lynx population. The loss of almost 40% of their historical range is strongly correlated to low genetic diversity within the population and led to hybridization with bobcats.

Sources: Defenders of Wildlife and International Society for Endangered Cats

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