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Canada lynx

 

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  • Canada lynx. Credit: Nate Berg/ USFWS.

    Canada lynx. Credit: Nate Berg/ USFWS.

  • Canada lynx kittens. Credit: Nate Berg/ USFWS.

    Canada lynx kittens. Credit: Nate Berg/ USFWS

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)

Description: The Canada lynx is a mid-sized boreal forest carnivore that occurs across most of northern North America. At 75-90 centimeters (30-35 inches) long, weighing 6-14 kilograms (about 15-30 pounds), and with grizzled gray fur, lynx are similar to bobcats (Lynx rufus) in size and appearance. The lynx’s exceptionally large paws, long, black ear tufts, and short, black-tipped tail distinguish it from the more common bobcat. With its large feet and long hind legs, the lynx is highly adapted to hunting its primary prey, the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), in deep, powdery snow."

Habitat: Lynx and snowshoe hares are strongly associated with moist, cool, boreal spruce-fir forests. Landscapes with high snowshoe hare densities are optimal for lynx survival and reproduction, and research suggests that hare densities consistently at or above 0.5 hares per hectare (0.2 hares/acre) are needed to support persistent lynx populations. Hares are most abundant in young regenerating or mature multi-storied forests with dense understory vegetation that provides food and cover. In the northern contiguous U.S. (i.e., the Lower 48 States), boreal forests become naturally patchy and marginal for lynx as they transition to temperate forest types that support lower hare densities. Such forests cannot support lynx populations, even though snowshoe hares may still be present. Snow also influences lynx distribution, and populations typically occur where continuous snow cover lasts four months or longer. Such areas are believed to provide lynx with a seasonal competitive advantage over other terrestrial hare predators like bobcats and coyotes (Canis latrans).

Distribution: Lynx are broadly distributed across most of Canada and Alaska, which combined encompass about 98% of the species breeding range. The contiguous U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) accounts for the other 2% and includes resident breeding populations in northern Maine, northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Montana/northern Idaho, and north-central Washington. An introduced population also occurs in western Colorado, and several other areas may have historically supported small resident populations (e.g., northern New Hampshire, Isle Royale, Michigan, northeastern Washington, and the Greater Yellowstone area of southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming). Lynx also have occurred temporarily in many other states, typically during irruptions (mass dispersal events) from Canada when northern hare populations underwent dramatic cyclic declines roughly every 10 years.

Status: The Contiguous U.S. DPS of lynx was listed at threatened in 2000 because regulations on some Federal lands at that time were inadequate to ensure the conservation of lynx populations and habitats.

View the entire Canada Lynx fact sheet here »

Multimedia:  This public domain material is provided courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



Recent actions & links »

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On January 11, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the completion of a scientific review of the Canada lynx in the contiguous United States. The review concludes that the Canada lynx may no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and should be considered for delisting due to recovery. This recommendation is the result of an extensive review of the best available scientific information and almost 20 years of working in partnership with state, federal, tribal, industry and other land managers on the conservation of this species. As a result of this status review, the Service will begin development of a proposed rule to delist the species.


Species Status Assessment (SSA) »

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January 11, 2018: Final Species Status Assessment (SSA) Report Released
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the availability of the final SSA report for the Contiguous U.S. Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Canada lynx.  The SSA compiles the best available scientific information regarding the historical, current, and potential future conditions for lynx in the lower 48 states.  It evaluates the DPS's viability considering climate change, forest management and related regulations, wildland fire management, and other potential sources of habitat loss and fragmentation.  The report incorporates the formally-elicited opinions of recognized lynx experts from throughout the DPS range regarding the current and future status of, potential threats to, and likely viability of resident lynx populations in the DPS.


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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) for the DPS.

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.

Canada lynx Expert Elicitation Workshop - Final Report

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 »

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In response to a June 2014 Court Order to complete a recovery plan for lynx by January of 2018, or make a determination that a recovery plan is not necessary, the Service completed a Species Status Assessment (SSA) for the lynx DPS (see above). The SSA provides the scientific underpinnings for the Service's recently-completed 5-year review (see below), which determined that the DPS may no longer meet the ESA's definition of a threatened species and recommends, therefore, that the DPS be considered for delisting due to recovery. Based on the 5-year review, the Service determined, in accordance with section 4(f)(1) of the ESA, that a recovery plan is not necessary at this time.

Signed 4(f)(1) Determination Regarding Recovery Planning for the Canada Lynx

2005 Canada Lynx Recovery Outline

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


5-year review »

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January 11, 2018: 5-Year Review Indicates Canada Lynx Recovery in the Lower 48 States

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the completion of a scientific review of the Canada lynx in the contiguous United States. The review concludes that the Canada lynx may no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and should be considered for delisting due to recovery. This recommendation is the result of an extensive review of the best available scientific information and almost 20 years of working in partnership with State, Federal, Tribal, industry and other land managers on the conservation of this species. As a result of this status review, the Service will begin development of a proposed rule to delist the species.

 

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

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


Critical habitat »

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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 »

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February 24, 2009 - The Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final revised critical habitat designation for the Canada lynx in the contiguous United States. Approximately 39,000 square miles of critical habitat were designated in five units in the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming.

News Release and Q&As

February 25, 2009 final CH rule published in the Federal Register, 74 FR 8616-8702.

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 announced 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 »

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On March 24, 2000, the contiguous United States population of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. 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

2007 Clarification of Significant Portion of the Range for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada - Federal Register notice, 72 FR 1186-1189

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.

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.


ESA consultations »


Miscellaneous »

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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 »

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USFWS Canada Lynx Fact Sheet 2 March 2000
Chronology of Canada lynx events through March 2000

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:
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 »

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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, Suite 1

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: June 25, 2018
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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