Canada Lynx - Lynx canadensis

Brief Natural History

The Canada lynx is a private creature with most of its activities taking place at night. Historically found in as many as 25 U.S. states, populations only remain in Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wyoming. Canada lynx are obligate carnivores and thus are limited to boreal forests where their main prey, the snowshoe hare, is found. In their southern ranges, prey tends to be more diverse. The senses of lynx are extremely keen; they use their broad-surfaced feet to walk on top of the snow while listening for the hares below. Because their populations are so closely linked with those of the snowshoe hare, lynx are most likely to be seen in Minnesota following any cyclic decline of the hare in Canada. Threats to the Canada lynx include wolves, bobcats, coyotes, and humans.

Where Do Canada Lynx that need rescue come from?

Private owners, roadside zoos, fur farms, and orphaned or injured individuals unable to be rehabilitated are all possible sources of lynx in need. Although there are laws prohibiting the ownership of exotics in many states, every state’s laws are different, and even laws do not prevent some people from attempting to keep these animals.

Conservation Status

The Canada lynx is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a species of least concern due to its thriving population throughout most of its range and, with managed harvests, populations show no significant decline. However, in New Brunswick, Canada, it is considered endangered and a species of special concern. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has classified the lynx as a federally threatened species in the U.S., and trapping no longer takes place.

Exhibition/Captive Laws

All members of the family Felidae, except domestic cat breeds, are regulated species in Minnesota. It is illegal for any person to own a Canada lynx in the state of Minnesota, unless grandfathered in as of January 1, 2005.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only Federal law that regulates the treatment of animals used commercially and for research. The law states that it is illegal to transport, purchase, sell, house, care for, or handle warm-blooded wild native and exotic species (excepting birds and certain rats and mice) without the proper permit/license from the USDA. Laws applicable to the private ownership of animals vary by state.

Fun Facts

Lynx have extremely large feet for the size of their body. This means that they are able to distribute their weight over more surface, making it easy for them to walk on top of the snow. Without this adaptation, lynx would have a very hard time getting around and hunting in the boreal forests that they occupy.