Big Sky Wildlife Spotlight: Canada Lynx
The Canada Lynx, or Lynx canadensis, is one of four members of the Lynx genus. This medium sized, wild cat is an elusive creature that is rarely seen by humans. It's likely that you'll never spot a Canada Lynx in the wild, but it will probably spot you.
Lynx | Pixabay Image
Always have your camera ready in case you see one of these wild felines in the mountains around Big Sky, in Yellowstone National Park, or in the surrounding Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The forests of SW Montana and the overall region are prime and critical habitat for the Canada Lynx. These cats are out there, but there aren't too many left.
On 24 February 2000, the US Fish & Wildlife Service listed the Canada Lynx as "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states. This means that this carnivore is protected because it is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future (FWS.gov). The Canada Lynx population ebbs and flows in relation with their primary food source - the snowshoe hare.
Let's take a look at some interesting facts about the Canada Lynx:
- The Canada Lynx's scientific name is Lynx canadensis.
- They are typically nocturnal and solitary creatures.
Lynx | Pixabay Image
- Sometimes they have been compared to ghosts.
- Adults range from 16 to 35 pounds and 26 to 33 inches long.
- Lynx are typically silver gray to grayish brown with a white belly and throat and black markings on their longest hairs.
- They have a short tail with a black tip.
- The Canada Lynx has long legs and a compact body.
- Their large round, furry feet are roughly 10 cm by 10 cm.
- The Canada Lynx is most similar to the Bobcat.
- These cats range from Alaska, across Canada, and into the Rocky Mountains of the US.
- They primarily live in mixed forests of pines and firs and tend to avoid open areas.
- They are non migratory, but do roam. A Canada Lynx's home range may range from 10 to 243 square kilometers depending on population size, food, and other variables.
- The Canada Lynx population is tied closely to the density of snowshoe hares in the area.
- Snowshoe hares consist of 35% to 97% of the Canada Lynx's diet. These cats will also eat red squirrels, grouse, porcupines, beavers, mice, voles, shrews, etc.
- Canada Lynx breed in March and April. Gestation lasts 62 to 74 days.
- Litter sizes average 3 to 4 and the kittens are raised by the female. Females produce 1 litter every 1 to 2 years.
Lynx Kittens | Pixabay Image
- The Canada Lynx is a furbearer in Montana, but trapping season is currently closed.
If you're lucky enough capture a cool wildlife photo of a Canada Lynx, be sure to share it on social media with #visitbigsky.
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