Description: Canada Lynx and bobcats are very similar in appearance. Their body shape is very distinctive. Look for a large cat with only a short tail, and extremely large feet (up to 9 cm/3.5 in wide and long). The large paws help it move effortlessly in the deep mountain snow pack. They may also have tufts of fur on the tips of the ears. They almost resemble a large Persian cat.
To differentiate bobcats from lynx, look for a slightly smaller cat with shorter legs and smaller paws. Range can also help to differentiate with the lynx being more common throughout Canada, while the bobcat is found primarily south of the 49th parallel. The ranges overlap through the southern Canadian Rockies and the northern US Mountains.
This truly Canadian wildcat is found across Canada with only isolated populations extending south of the 49th parallel. They can be seen throughout the Canadian Rockies and the northern portion of the US Rockies, particularly through Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. By the 1970s, lynx populations began to crash in the lower 48 States. They need a mixture of mature forest with plenty of downed wood, along with patches of younger forest for finding hares. They use the mature forest for denning and the younger forest for hunting. Hares feed on seedlings and shrubs that are tall enough to extend through the snow, but not too tall be out of reach for the hares. Connecting corridors also need to be maintained to connect the various forest stages.
Lynx rarely cross large open areas such as clearcuts. They rely on a mozaic of old and new growth connected by forested corridors. Logging leaves large holes in the forest with little to offer lynx.
The population of lynx is directly tied to populations of snowshoe hares, their primary prey. Hares follow a cyclical 10 year population curve with huge fluctuations in population and periodic crashes. With crashes in hare population, soon the lynx population will follow. Few predator-prey relationships in the mountains are as intimately connected as this. They have even both evolved large feet to help them move through the deep winter snows of the mountains.
When hunting, the lynx will rarely pursue its prey for more than 50 m, and may work in cooperation with its young to capture a hare. Their eyesight allows them to distinguish subtle shades of light, helping them spot hares against a snowy white background.
Other prey includes a smorgasbord of small mammals including mice, voles, and ground squirrels. Rarely, they may take an animal as large as a deer.
Unlike the cougar, which may mate at any time of the year, lynx mate once a year during the spring. After 60-65 days, she will give birth to 1 to 5 kittens. The mother will care for the kittens, and they will stay with her until she prepares to mate again the following year.