Endangered Species | Mammals
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

Canada lynx

 

Jump to a section: Recent actions & links | Species Status Assessment (SSA) | Recovery | 5-year review | Critical habitat | Critical habitat archives | Listing decision | ESA consultations | Miscellaneous | Archives | Additional links | Contact us | « Back to mammals | Open / close all

  • Canada lynx, San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Credit: © Steve Torbit.

    Canada lynx, San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Credit: © Steve Torbit.

  • Canada lynx. Credit: USFWS.

    Canada lynx. Credit: USFWS.

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)

Species info: The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) is an elusive forest-dwelling cat of northern latitudes. At 30-35 inches long, weighing 14-31 pounds, and with grizzled gray fur, lynx are similar to bobcats (Lynx rufus) in size and appearance. The lynx’s large, wellfurred paws, long, black ear tufts, and short, black-tipped tail distinguish it from the bobcat. With its large paws and long hind legs, the lynx is highly adapted to hunting its primary prey, the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), in the deep snow typical throughout its range. Lynx have been documented to live up to 16 years in the wild.

Habitat: Landscapes with high snowshoe hare densities are optimal for lynx survival, reproduction, and population persistence. Lynx and hares are strongly associated with moist, cool, boreal spruce-fir forests, where lynx prefer gently rolling terrain. Hares need forests with dense understory vegetation that provides food and cover, especially during periods of deep snow. In the northern contiguous U.S., boreal forests transition to more temperate forest types, where lynx populations cannot be sustained, even though snowshoe hares may still be present. Lynx also need persistent deep, powdery snow, which limits competition from other hare predators, and denning habitat generally consisting of log piles, windfalls, or dense vegetation that provide security for kittens. Most lynx habitat in the Lower 48 States occurs on public (National Forest, National Park, and Bureau of Land Management) lands, except in the Northeast, where most is on private timber lands.

View the entire Canada Lynx fact sheet here »


Recent actions & links »

« Back to the top

On September 12, 2014, the Service revised Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the contiguous United States distinct population segment (DPS) of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). The Service finalized both a revised critical habitat designation for the lynx DPS and a revised definition for what constitutes the range of the DPS – the portion of the species’ North American range in which lynx are protected by the Act.

On June 20, 2014, the Service announced the availability of a Draft Economic Analysis (DEA) and a draft environmental assessment for the proposed revised designation of critical habitat for the Contiguous U.S. Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service will open a 30-day public comment period until July 21, 2014, to allow the public to review the draft documents. Comments on an amended required determinations section of the proposal may also be made during this comment period.  Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

On September 25, 2013, the Service announced a proposal to revise the critical habitat designation for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx. The Service previously listed the lynx as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Act)in 2000 and designated critical habitat for the species in 2006, which was revised in 2009. This current revision was undertaken to address two court orders resulting from litigation over the 2009 critical habitat designation. The Service also proposes to revise the definition of the lynx DPS to ensure that all lynx in the contiguous United States are protected under the Act. The Service is accepting public comment on this action until December 26, 2013. More information can be found at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2013-0101.

The Service announced on December 17, 2009, that changing the boundaries of the Endangered Species Act listing for the Canada lynx to include the State of New Mexico is warranted; however, the action is precluded at this time by the need to complete other listing actions of a higher priority.

On March 24, 2000, the contiguous United States population of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.   This site provides access to various sources of information on the Canada lynx, including documents about recovery planning, critical habitat, the listing decision, section 7 consultations, research, archives, and other informational web sites.



Species Status Assessment (SSA) »

« Back to the top

Canada Lynx Expert Elicitation Workshop Final Report. The purpose of this report is to convey the results of an expert workshop convened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in October 2015 to improve our understanding of the status of the contiguous U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). This workshop was held in conjunction with a species status assessment (SSA; see Appendix 1) for the DPS. The SSA, which will incorporate the best available scientific information on lynx, is needed to inform the Service’s response to a June 2014 court order to complete a recovery plan for the DPS by January 2018, or make a formal determination that a recovery plan is not necessary.

The workshop was organized by a Lynx SSA Team consisting of Service and USGS staff who have developed and piloted implementation of the SSA framework, and Service biologists who are working on lynx throughout the range of the DPS. In the interest of collaboration and transparency, this team partnered with State agencies, other Federal agencies, and academic researchers to elicit expert input regarding the current and likely future status of lynx populations within the DPS.

The results of the workshop will contribute to the SSA, which will compile and summarize the best available scientific and commercial data, including empirical data, published literature, and expert input. This information will then be used by Service decision makers to inform recovery planning direction, classification decisions, and other determinations required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Canada lynx Expert Elicitation Workshop

S

Appendices:

Appendix 1 SSA Fact Sheet (PDF)
Appendix 2 Workshop Participants Roles (PDF)
Appendix 3 FINAL Lynx SSA Expert Elicitation Workshop Notes (PDF)
Appendix 4 Lynx SSA Expert Workshop Candidates V2 (PDF)

Appendix 5 Presentations

Appendix 6 Lynx EE figures (PDF)


Recovery »

« Back to the top

The Service recently completed a recovery outline for the Canada lynx.  Recovery outlines are intended to provide interim guidance on recovery until a formal recovery plan is developed.  Recovery outlines carry no regulatory authority.  

Development of a formal recovery plan has been delayed due to limited resources and litigation related to the listing decision.  Meanwhile, the Service continues to work with the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, as well as other Federal agencies, State agencies, Tribes, and other partners to undertake lynx conservation activities. 

We welcome your input on the recovery outline; feedback will be accepted until a formal recovery plan is developed.  Visit the "Contact us" section to submit your comments.

Canada lynx recovery outline, September 2005
Letter to Interested Parties transmitting outline, September 2005
Map of Canada lynx recovery areas, 2005


5-year review »

« Back to the top

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated a 5-year review of the status of the contiguous U.S. population of the Canada lynx.

We conduct 5 year reviews to ensure the ESA listed status of a species is accurate.  For this status review we will assess the best scientific and commercial information available since the lynx was listed in 2000.

Generally, we are looking for information regarding:

  • Species biology, including but not limited to population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;
  • Habitat conditions, including but not limited to amount, distribution, and suitability;
  • Conservation measures that have been implemented to benefit the species; (D) Threat status and trends; and
  • Other new information, data, or corrections, including but not limited to taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of erroneous information contained in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, and improved analytical methods.

  News Release Announcing 5-Year Review (January 13, 2015 )

  Notice announcing 5-year review (April 18, 2007, Federal Register).


Critical habitat »

« Back to the top

On September 12, 2014, the Service revised Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the contiguous United States distinct population segment (DPS) of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). The Service finalized both a revised critical habitat designation for the lynx DPS and a revised definition for what constitutes the range of the DPS – the portion of the species’ North American range in which lynx are protected by the Act.

On September 25, 2013, the Service announced a proposal to revise the critical habitat designation for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx. The Service previously listed the lynx as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Act)in 2000 and designated critical habitat for the species in 2006, which was revised in 2009. This current revision was undertaken to address two court orders resulting from litigation over the 2009 critical habitat designation. The Service also proposes to revise the definition of the lynx DPS to ensure that all lynx in the contiguous United States are protected under the Act. The Service is accepting public comment on this action until December 26, 2013. More information can be found athttp://www.regulations.gov, Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2013-0101.

Critical habitat archives »

 


Critical habitat archives »

« Back to the top

The Fish and Wildlife Service is revising the critical habitat designated for the Canada lynx. On February 28, 2008, the Service proposed to designate approximately 42,753 square miles of habitat in portions of northern Maine, northeastern Minnesota, the Northern Rocky Mountains (northwestern Montana and northeastern Idaho), the Northern Cascades (north-central Washington), and the Greater Yellowstone Area (southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming).

We now announce publication of a Notice of Availability of the Draft Economic Analysis and Draft Environmental Assessment.

We also provide, for public comment, two draft conservation agreements:

In addition, we are providing maps representing potential changes that may be incorporated into the final critical habitat designation for Canada lynx. The potential changes to the map boundaries are the result of new information provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the public comment period, February 28, 2008 to April 28, 2008, and during our consideration of comments submitted. Potential map changes reflect new information about lynx habitat condition and distribution. Changes also reflect areas that the U.S. Forest Service has identified as being important for lynx during their planning process.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to revise the amount of critical habitat designated for the Canada lynx. In total, the Service is proposing to designate approximately 42,753 square miles of habitat in portions of northern Maine, northeastern Minnesota, the Northern Rocky Mountains (northwestern Montana and northeastern Idaho), the Northern Cascades (north-central Washington), and the Greater Yellowstone Area (southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming). The public is invited to comment on all aspects of the proposed rule.  Comments will be accepted until April 28, 2008.

Maps of Proposed Critical Habitat Areas

 


Listing decision »

« Back to the top

The contiguous U.S. population of the lynx was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2000.   In 2003, in response to a court-order to reconsider the listing, we clarified our final listing decision.  

2000 Listing decision documents:

Final Rule:  Determination of Threatened Status for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada Lynx, March 24, 2000; Federal Register
Literature cited from Canada lynx final rule, 2000
Contiguous United States lynx range map, 2000
Commonly asked questions about the Canada lynx listing fact sheet, 2000

2003 Clarification of final listing decision documents:
Notice of Remanded Determination of Status for the Contiguous U.S. Distinct Population Segment of the Canada Lynx; Clarification of Findings; Final Rule, July 3, 2003; Federal Register
Range Map - Black & White version (334 KB)
Range Map - Color version (2.5 MB)
Literature cited in clarification of findings, July, 2003
Court order, December, 2002

Service to Conduct Status Review on the Need to Revise the 2000 Canada Lynx Listing to Include New Mexico

Following an initial review of a petition to revise the listing of Canada lynx to include the mountains of north-central New Mexico, the Fish and Wildlife Service will undertake a review to determine if animals in New Mexico – believed to be dispersers from the State of Colorado reintroduction efforts - should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is seeking information regarding the status and distribution of the Canada lynx, including impacts or potential impacts to the species resulting from either human activities or natural causes. Public comments will be accepted until February 17, 2008. For more information, please see the Federal Register Notice.


ESA consultations »


Miscellaneous »

« Back to the top

How to avoid incidental take of  lynx while trapping or hunting bobcats or other furbearers brochure
Fish and Wildlife Service Lynx Profile
Ruggiero, L.F., Aubry, K.B., Buskirk, S.W., Koehler, G.M., Krebs, C.J., McKelvey, K.S., Squires, J.R.  2000.  Ecology and conservation of lynx in the United States
Ruediger, B. et al. 2000.  Lynx Conservation Assessment and Strategy

Lynx - Bobcat Hybridization:
In 2003, scientists conducting DNA analysis of hair and tissue samples discovered the first evidence of hybridization between lynx and bobcat in the wild.

Article: Schwartz et al. 2004.  Hybridization between lynx and bobcats
Press release:  June 2, 2003  Scientists Confirm Hybridization of Canada Lynx with Bobcats in Minnesota
Questions and Answers regarding lynx and bobcat hybridization in Minnesota, June 2003

Press release:  August 27, 2003  DNA Tests Confirm Hybridization of Canada Lynx with Bobcats in Maine


Archives »

« Back to the top

USFWS Canada Lynx Fact Sheet April 2001
USFWS Canada Lynx Fact Sheet 2 March 2000
Chronology of Canada lynx events through March 2000
Conservation Agreement Between the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, February 2000 (expired)

Press Releases:
June 27, 2003  Fish and Wildlife Service Finds that Canada Lynx Should Remain Listed as Threatened in Lower 48
March 17, 2003 Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Additional Information Regarding Lynx Habitat
March 21, 2000 Canada Lynx Listed as Threatened
August 10, 1999 Science Report on Lynx Conservation Made Available, Public Comment Period Re-opened
June 28, 1999 Discovery of Canada Lynx Kittens Proves that the Wild Cats Reproduce in Maine
June 17, 1999 Fish and Wildlife Service Extends Proposal to List Canada Lynx
June 30, 1998 Service Proposes to List Canada Lynx as Threatened

Federal Register Notices:
March 17, 2003 Re-opening of Comment Period for Final Rule to List the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada Lynx
August 18, 1999 Notice of Re-opening of Comment Period for Lynx Proposal
July 26, 1999 Canada Lynx Special Rule Record of Compliance
July 8, 1999 Notice of 6-Month Extension
July 8, 1998 Proposal to List the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada Lynx; Proposed Rule
May 27, 1997 12-Month Finding for a Petition to List the Contiguous United States Population of the Canada Lynx
December 27, 1994 12-Month Finding for a Petition to List the Contiguous United States Population of the Canada Lynx


Additional links »


Contact us »

« Back to the top

You can contact us about lynx or this webpage at:

Email: FW6_Lynx@fws.gov

Regular mail:
Lynx
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
585 Shepard Way

Helena, Montana  59601

Phone: (406) 449-5225

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: April 20, 2016
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
instagram button flickr youtube