Canada lynx Canada lynx

One of three wild felids native to Wyoming (the others being bobcats and mountain lions), Canada lynx are specially adapted to live in areas of heavy snowfall and are specifically adapted to hunt a few species of prey, the first being the snowshoe hare.

Fun Critter Facts

Presence of their main prey is the best predictor of presence or absence of this species, except areas in the southern portion of the range where they have been extirpated due to climate, habitat, and overharvest issues.

- Lynx are equipped with long legs and very large, padded feet that act as snowshoes in deep snow conditions, the better to hunt their favorite prey species that are also gifted with snowshoes (such as snowshoe hares and ruffed grouse).  Although lynx will consume red squirrels and ruffed grouse they are really thought to be a snowshoe hare-obligate, and snowshoe hare populations drive lynx population dynamics.  In fact, the way we describe lynx habitat is based upon what snowshoe hares need.

- Much confusion occurs with identifying this species when compared to the much more numerous and widespread bobcat.  Canada lynx are, on average, a little larger than their close relative, although bobcat maximum weights can exceed that of Canada lynx.  Lynx are famous for their very long ear and cheek tufts, (bobcats also have shorter tufts), are generally a uniform pale grey in color (some minor faint spotting typically occurs), and have a black tail tip.  Bobcats are typically more brown or red (although some are a nice grey as well), but have white bellies that are heavily spotted with black.  Their tail tip is white with a black border.  Lynx are more long and lanky appearing, given their abnormally long legs.

- Lynx are typically a creature of wilderness and faraway places, with exotic sounding names like "muskeg", "boreal", and others.  In Wyoming, Canada lynx inhabit our most wild places, and are tied specifically to habitats that produce the foods they require; namely habitats that are good for species like snowshoe hares, grouse and red squirrels.  Lynx have been documented in the Snowy Range and Sierra Madres (from reintroduced lynx in Colorado), but but the vast majority of potential habitat occurs in the remote mountains of western Wyoming from Kemmerer to Cody and YNP.  They have also occasionally been seen in the Uinta Range. However, lynx are expected to be extremely rare in Wyoming and presence has not been confirmed in the state in recent years.  

- Lynx are protected in the lower 48, but are a valuable furbearer species in Alaska and Canada.  Populations are considered healthy and secure throughout the bulk of its range.   

- Lynx typically mate only during spring (March - early May) and kittens are typically born in late May or June.  One to four kittens make up a litter and young are at least partially dependent on the female until they are weaned, usually at 10 months.  Litter size, and whether a female breeds or not, is dictated by prey abundance (litters are larger in years food is plentiful).

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