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North Dakota's

Federally Listed Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate Species – 1995


Lynx (Felis lynx)

JPG -- species photo gif--species map

Status: Former Candidate (Note: As of February 28, 1996, this species is no longer listed as a Candidate species. However, it remains a species of management concern.)

Historical Status:
Historically, the lynx was found in the forested regions of northern North America and northern Asia and Europe. The southern extent of its range was the broadleaf forests and open prairie where it was replaced by the bobcat. In North Dakota, lynx were probably historically found in the Turtle Mountains and the Pembina Gorge area.

Present Status:
The northern extent of the lynx distribution is the treeless tundra. The southern extent has receded northward. Lynx may still be found in portions of the Rocky Mountains and the Lake States. Lynx may extend their range southward when the snowshoe hare population is at a low in the cycle. There are probably no resident Lynx in North Dakota; however, they occasionally show up from Canada.

Habitat:
Lynx are associated with dense conifer (pine, spruce, fir) forests, thickets, and swamps. Lynx are almost always associated with the presence of snowshoe hares.

Life History:
The female lynx attains sexual maturity in about 22 months while the male is thought to be able to breed in its first year. The breeding season starts in March and ends about mid-April. Whether lynx breed may be dependent upon the availability of snowshoe hares. The male and female separate soon after breeding. The gestation period is about 9 weeks. Lynx give birth in a den which may be a hollow log, stump, or a windfall. A litter of about 4 kittens are born in late May to early June. The kitten's eyes open in 12-17 days. Weaning is completed in 12 weeks. The home range of a lynx is usually 1 to 10 miles. The lynx is almost exclusively carnivorous, with the snowshoe hare being their primary food. Few other predators are as dependent on a specific food as the lynx is to the snowshoe hare. The lynx population will increase when the snowshoe hare population increases and decrease when the hare population decreases. Squirrels, mice and other small prey make up a large portion of the diet when the hare population is down. Big game such as deer are rarely taken. Lynx will rarely feed on carrion.

Aid to identification:
The lynx stands 19 to 24 inches at the shoulder. Males weigh about 22 pounds and females about 15 pounds. Male and female are the same color. The fur in winter is long and thick. The guard hairs are tricolored, with dark roots, darker mid-section, and light brown tip. The lynx is similar in appearance to the bobcat; however, the lynx has longer hair, pointed ear tufts, and much larger feet. The feet of the lynx are almost 4 inches long and an equal distance wide. The immense paws, relative to body weight, give the lynx the ability to walk on top of snow. Lynx occasionally vocalize with a wide range of calls.

Reasons for decline:
Conversion of land to agriculture was undoubtedly partly responsible for the decline in the lynx distribution. Unregulated harvest by trappers and hunters may have been a problem early in the century.

Recommendations:
Report all observations of lynx to a natural resources agency.

Comments:
Lynx pelts are very valuable. Lynx are protected by state law in North Dakota. In North Dakota, a medium size cat with a bobbed-tail is more likely a bobcat.

References:
Wild Mammals of North America, edited by Joseph Chapman and George Feldhamer, 1982.


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