Forest Legacy


Canada Lynx - Lynx canadensis

Canada Lynx

Canada lynx are medium-sized cats, generally measuring 30-35 inches long and weighing 18-23 pounds. They have long legs and large feet adapted to walking in deep snow. They are highly adapted for hunting snowshoe hare, their primary prey, in cold, snow-covered forests. Their most distinctive features are their tufted ears and short, black-tipped tail, only 1.5 to 3 inches long.

Lynx are a federally threatened species in the contiguous United States. They inhabit conifer and conifer-hardwood habitats in the Northeast, western Great Lakes, northern and southern Rockies.

Lynx breed in late winter to early spring. Gestation lasts 62-74 days. Litter size averages three or four. Adult females produce one litter every one to two years.

Home ranges increase, and individuals may become nomadic when prey is scarce. Lynx are usually solitary, but will hunt as a family group.

Both timber harvest and natural disturbance processes, including fire, insect infestations, catastrophic wind events, and disease outbreaks, can provide foraging habitat for lynx. The primary threat to Canada lynx in the lower 48 is habitat fragmentation. Climate change is a long-term threat.

In Minnesota, the majority of lynx reports are from the northeastern portion of the state, however, lynx have been found in forests of north-central Minnesota. How many may be found at any time in the state is not known, however, genetic analysis in recent years has identified nearly 100 individuals in Minnesota.