Watch Feeling the Heat with Jeff Corwin to learn how climate change is affecting this cool cat.
A glimpse of its stubby tail or tufted ears and you may mistake a Canada lynx for its bobcat cousin, but this big cat is more adept at navigating the deep, snow-packed forests of Canada and a handful of northern states, including Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Montana,Washington and Wyoming. These finicky felines can’t live just anywhere. They have very specific habitat needs: older forest with good cover for building dens and younger forest with thick vegetation for hunting prey such as snowshoe hare.
A snowshoe hare’s fluffy white camouflage is no match for the lynx’s expert eyes and long, tufted ears. Unless the bunny makes a dash for it, that is, since lynx aren’t designed for endurance chases. You would think that those long legs would offer some benefit to make up for its strikingly odd proportions (smallish cat body with oversize limbs and massive feet). But they do come in handy in deep, fluffy snow, which offers an excellent advantage over competing predators such as coyote and bobcat. Combined with those big snowshoe-like paws, the lynx is like a four-wheel-drive vehicle — able to go where others dare not.
The Canada lynx remains a threatened species in the lower-48 states, with only around 1,000 cats calling U.S. forests home. Unfortunately, climate change is making it tougher for them to survive. Loss of snow or changes in its density due to warming temperatures affects the lynx’s hunting abilities — as well as the number of snowshoe hares.
Lynx Forest Home Faces a New Threat
The Obama administration has proposed a new plan for our national forests, setting aside vital measures that have protected the homes of lynx and other imperiled wildlife since the days when Ronald Reagan was president.
Don’t let President Obama turn back the clock for our wildlife. Urge federal officials to stand up for wildlife protections in our national forests.
Plenty is at stake. The U.S. Forest Service manages 155 national forests and 20 grasslands spread across some 193 million acres nationwide.