The life of the Canada lynx is influenced by two notable and significant factors: (1) the abundance of the snowhoe hare upon which it is almost exclusively dependent for its food and (2) the degree to which it is trapped for its fur, primarily the fur on its undersides; the long, light coloured belly fur that is used by the clothes manufacturers.
The behavior of this wildcat can be altered by the degree of trapping for its fur. The presence of the snowshoe hare has a far greater impact on the life of the Canada lynx than the other way around.
The Canada lynx is a solitary, ground dwelling, medium sized wild cat that is found in North America. It is distributed over about 98% of Canada (2012) and in a relatively small and fragmented area of the northwest of the United States and also over most of Alaska. Its range follows the range of the snowshoe hare.
The Canadian lynx has unspotted brown, buff-gray fur except for the undersides. It has notably large paws to traverse the snow.
Scientific name: Lynx canadensis (Kerr 1792)
Other names: Canadian lynx, American Lynx.
The Newfoundland Canada lynx has unspotted, buff-grey fur in the summer and grayish fur in the winter except for the lighter undersides. This species of lynx is about three feet long including the 5 inch long tail which is tipped black. This cat weighs about 10 kilograms and is about 20 inches tall at the shoulder (similar to the world’s tallest domestic cat incidentally). They are half the size of the Eurasian lynx because their prey is smaller. The limbs are long and the feet broad. There is a notable ruff hanging from the cheeks that is edged in black fur. The ears are tipped with elongated black tufts of hair.
As mentioned the primary prey is the snowshoe hare. I have a list of prey items:
See lynx food chain for more.
The Canadian lynx hunts mainly by stalking. Success rates depend on how close the cat gets to the hare before the attack and thereafter on the individual lynx’s speed which in turn depends on jump rate and distance per jump. When hunting in groups the sucess rate is highest at for example 42% in Newfoundland.
Notes: Exterminated from New Brunswick, lower Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Just before 2002 attempts were made to reintroduce the Canada lynx into New York State.
Found in a variety of habitats; where the snowshoe hare is found the Canadian lynx follows in the belt of boreal forest from Newfoundland to Alaska.
Breeding occurs mostly from March-early April. Births occur in May-June. Gestation is 63-64 days. Litter size is 1-8 kittens. Eyes open at 14 days. At 5 weeks they follow mother. At 7 months they participate in hunting. At 10 months they make their own kills (Newfoundland) when they become independent. They become fully adult at 2 years of age. A female was recorded living for almost 15 years.
This is essentially a solitary cat. The usual male home range overlapping female ranges does not always apply. Sometimes female and male home ranges are mutually exclusive. Trapping of this cat interrupts usual behavior. Home ranges are in the order of 15-50 km². Lynx seem to employ the usual scent marking methods of urine spraying, depositing scent on objects and claw raking the ground.
Status in Wild
Is the Canada lynx endangered? No, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List) – the experts. Population is stable (2012). Major threat: USA – habitat fragmentation. Canada – over trapping, prey depletion, competition from other predators in eastern Canada (Coyote). The Red List assessment: Least Concern.
Photo credit (heading page): by USFWS Mountain Prairie
Primary source: Wild Cats of the World – ISBN-13: 978-0-226-77999-7.