Today’s post is from Christine Terwissen, a trainee biologist in our Southeast area.
The lynx can be considered the “king” of winter animals. Their thick fur allows them to remain active throughout the winter.
The lynx can be found throughout Canada’s boreal forest, which in Ontario generally means north of Algonquin. However, not many people manage to detect them, since lynxes are notoriously distrustful of people.
The best way to know if you have seen a lynx is its unique ear tufts (which are much longer than those of wild cats) and their stubby tails with black tips.
Bobcats are a particularly elusive species, so the most common way to Lynx detection in winter is through their tracks.
The first way to identify a lynx print is by its size. They are usually between 7 and 8 cm wide. Canines (wolves and coyotes) also have footprints of this size, but they can be easily differentiated using the following figure:
Are you looking for lynx tracks? Be on the lookout for clues that:
- It has a very round shape
- have 3 lobes on the pad
- rarely has claw marks
Lynxes are especially adapted to capture their main prey: the snowshoe hare. Your particular large, hairy feet, which act like snowshoesallow them to run quickly over the snow.
However, snowshoe hares They have developed their own defenses. They change color From brown to white each fall to blend in with the snow and make it harder for bobcats to spot.
This snowshoe hare is halfway through its seasonal color change.
These two species are so closely related that their populations circulate throughout the country. It is believed that as snowshoe hare populations increase, so do lynxes, to some extent. Over time, lynxes reduce the snowshoe hare population, resulting in increased competition among lynxes for prey. The lynx population then declines and the cycle repeats approximately every 10 years.
This characteristic predator-prey cycle is one of the most studied examples, as lynx populations can be determined from Hudson’s Bay Company fur trapping records dating back to the 19th century.
This means that – Depending on where you are in the 10-year cycle, spotting a lynx can be a rare treat!