Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), the only lynx in North America
and is a rare forest-dwelling cat of northern latitudes. It
feeds primarily on snowshoe hares but also will prey on small
mammals and birds. Its range extends from Alaska, throughout
much of Canada, to the boreal forests in the northeastern
United States, the Great Lakes, the Rocky Mountains and the
Cascade Mountains. Once found in 16 states, fewer than 200
lynx remain in the continental United States today, mostly
in Minnesota, Washington, Maine and Montana.
The lynx is a medium-sized
cat, similar to the bobcat, but appears somewhat larger. It
has longer hind legs and very large well-furred paws, making
the lynx highly adapted to hunting snowshoe hares in the
deep snow typical throughout its range. It also has unique
long tufts on the ears and a short, black-tipped tail.
Within the contiguous
United States, the lynx range extends into different regions
that are separated from each other by ecological barriers
consisting of unsuitable lynx habitat. These regions are
the Northeast (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York); the
Great Lakes (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan); the Northern
Rocky Mountains/Cascades (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana,
northwestern Wyoming, Utah); and the Southern Rocky Mountains
(Colorado, southeastern Wyoming).
Canada lynx is the most recently listed threatened species
that occurs in the Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service.
It was listed as threatened in the contiguous United States
under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service on April 21, 2000. The listing includes a special
regulation allowing take and export of lawfully obtained captive-bred
lynx. A separate rule to address the take of lynx resulting
from incidental State and Tribal regulated hunting and trapping
programs will follow.
The lynx occurs
predominantly on Federal lands, especially in the West. The
Forest Service recently completed a Lynx Conservation Agreement
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Forest Service
is also completing analysis to amend respective Forest Plans
to identify and conserve potential lynx habitat. The Bureau
of Land Management and the National Park Service are also
developing lynx conservation agreements.
The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service did not propose listing earlier in 1977 due
to other priority listing needs. The decision was later challenged
by several environmental organizations, and a subsequent settlement
agreement led to the Service proposing the lynx as threatened
The relative importance
of each region to the survival and recovery of the species
varies. Canada lynx in Alaska are not affected by the U.S.
listing decision. The Northern Rockies/Cascades region supports
the largest amount of lynx habitat and has the strongest evidence
of long-term occurrence of resident lynx populations, both
historically and currently. This region is the primary region
necessary to support the continued long-term existence of
lynx in the contiguous United States. However, biologists
will continue to examine the role that each region plays in
the long-term conservation of lynx during recovery planning
for the species.
In the Northeast
and Southern Rockies regions, the amount of lynx habitat is
relatively limited and does not contribute substantially to
the persistence of the contiguous U.S. lynx population.
Due to limited
habitat and associated prey densities sufficient to sustain
lynx populations, the Great Lakes region does not contribute
substantially to the persistence of the contiguous U.S. lynx
population. The Chippewa, Superior, Chequemegon-Nicolet,
Ottawa, Hiawatha, Green and White Mountain National Forests
are meeting with local Fish and Wildlife Service representatives
as well as evaluating affects of projects with in Lynx Conservation
Units as outlined in the Canada Lynx Conservation Strategy.
Field surveys are also ongoing.
Lynx was listed
as one distinct population segment in the contiguous United
States because, individually, none of the four geographical
regions fulfill the Endangered Species Act criteria required
for a Distinct Population Segment that could be listed independently
of the others.