Monday, January 15, 2018

Mammal Monday -- Canada Lynx

Since it looks like the current administration plans to delist the Canada Lynx from the Endangered Species Act list of protected species, let's take a look at these mammals with 5 lynx facts:

  1. They've got a huge range -- The U.S. makes up the southern portion of the lynx's range.  Populations are found in MN, ME, MT, CO, and WA, but they've been found as far south as NM!
  2. They help control populations of small mammals -- The main prey of lynx are small mammals that reproduce quickly -- think rabbits and snowshoe hare.
  3. When it comes to nurseries, they keep it simple -- Lynx mate in the winter and give birth 60 to 70 days later.  They don't dig dens; they usually make a nest in an existing depression that's covered with vegetation or an old log.
  4. They're a great example of population cycling and co-evolution -- Although lynx don't just eat snowshoe hares (as was believed several decades ago), hares make up a large part of their diet.  Lynx and hare populations actually cycle together -- when there are lots of hares, the lynx population increases.  This increase in lynx causes a decrease in hare numbers, which then leads to a decrease in lynx, and so on. See the IUCN listing for more info.
  5. There's some debate regarding how best to protect lynx --  Lynx are currently listed as threatened under the U.S. ESA and "least concern" by the IUCN.  Population size can change drastically year to year and populations are larger and more robust in northern areas in Canada.  U.S. ESA protections are thought to be helpful to the populations because help to provide habitat on Federal lands (under section 7 of the ESA) and may provide connectivity between southern and northern populations.
It turns out, there's a lynx named Max who's an animal ambassador -- don't try this at home:

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