threatened since 2000Yellowstone National Park
The Canada lynx is a medium-sized, solitary cat with long legs, tufted ears and grayish-brown fur with a black-tipped tail. Its wide, furry paws allow it to run across snow as it’s hunting snowshoe hares and other small mammals.
Canada lynx are generally found in boreal forests with cold, snowy winters and a robust populations of their preferred prey, the snowshoe hare. Lynx are solitary and maintain a large home range, the size of which is dependent on the abundance of prey and the density of other lynx in the area. Areas with downed logs provide denning sites with security and thermal cover for kittens.
Historically, the Canada lynx’s range stretched across the northern United States from Washington to Maine, dipping south into Utah and Colorado and north across Canada and into Alaska. Now the range in the U.S. is more fragmented, with the largest stretch across Washington, Montana and Colorado, divided from populations in the Great Lakes region and in Maine.
Timber harvesting, agriculture and urbanization have altered, disturbed or eliminated forest habitat for the Canada lynx and its primary prey, the snowshoe hare. As the habitat becomes more fragmented, so do the populations of the species, making it more difficult to find mates, prey and suitable shelter.
The recovery plan for the Canada lynx focuses on six core areas, including the Yellowstone ecosystem, which have evidence of long-term habitation by the cat. Within those areas, scientists have been working to better understand the species, its habitat needs, and the threats it faces. Federal land managers building on this information to make sure their management plans are consistent with protecting the Canada lynx.