Common Name(s): Northern lynx
Scientific Name: Lynx canadensis
Weight: 20-39 pounds
Head/Body: 30 – 36 inches
Tail: 2 to 4 inches
Gestation: ~68 to 72 days
Status: Stable (Vulnerable in some localities)
Canadian lynx inhabit mostly forested areas, but can be found in scrub land and tundra to the north. The Canadian lynx itself is extensively hunted throughout much of its range and is listed in CITES Appendix 2.are the most common and widespread feline in Canada. They are easily recognizable cats with their black ear tufts, flared facial ruff, and a very short tail. They are often confused with the closely related Bobcat Lynx rufus in the southern part of their range. A closer look, however, reveals a number of differences. The Lynx has longer legs and broader footpads for walking in deep snow. Their ear tufts are longer, and the facial ruff is more developed. Their tail has a black tip, while the Bobcat’s is more striped and white underneath. These two cat species seem to have divided the continent up between them, with the Bobcat being limited by snow depth to southern Canada through to Central Mexico, and the Canada Lynx in the northern forests.
The lynx is distinctive in appearance – with its triangular shaped, tufted ears, thick set body, long hind legs, a short, stumpy tail and large fur covered paws which help carry the cat over deep snow , which is common in much of its range. The body size of the Canadian lynx can vary quite considerably – from a little under 2 feet to in excess of four. The coat is spotted, but less distinct than in European and Asian varieties, being almost masked by the thick tawny to grey colored fur, which is often seen to have a ‘frosted’ appearance due the white tips to its fur.
The Canadian lynx generally stalks prey alone, although group hunting has been observed. Although not a timid hunter, the lynx will rarely contest its prey if confronted by other carnivores and will leave its prey uneaten. Its prey varies from small rodents through to deer, with the snowshoe hare being by far its favored prey. Over two hundred years of records from the Hudson’s Bay Fur Company show that the Lynx population fluctuates in an 8 – 11 year cycle, in response to fluctuations in the numbers of the snowshoe hare. Hares breed profusely through several summers when food is plentiful. Overpopulation means they eventually wipe out their food supply and their numbers plummet. Lynx populations follow the hare cycle with a lag of one or two years. In certain areas, the lynx is so closely tied to the snowshoe that its population has been seen to rise and fall with that of the hare, even though other food sources may be abundant.
In the autumn and winter months, the lynx will often scavenge on the carcasses of larger animal such as caribou and deer who have perished with the onset of winter or have been shot during the hunting season.