These three Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) kittens live in the Great North Woods region of Maine. In June of 2010, the kittens were studied by a team of biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the State of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Studies of the Canada lynx has been conducted by the USFWS and the State of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife since 1999. Here, a wildlife biologist sets an ear tag in place.
The shadow of climate change hangs over these young lynx. As New England warms, the cats are losing their habitat.
Lynx strut on long legs with big feet perfect for walking on snow. The wild felines depend on heavy snow to maintain their advantage over other predators as they stalk snowshoe hare, their primary prey.
Reductions in snowfall in the Great North Woods region of Maine (shown here) where the lynx research took place may cause the cats to suffer.
“Lynx are uniquely sensitive to climate change based on their physical attributes,” said Chris Hoving, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment in a press release. “Their preferred habitat requires at least 2.7 meters of average annual snowfall. If snowfall decreases, there may be almost no suitable habitat in Maine where the only verifiable lynx population on the East Coast exists.”
Hoving published a study of lynx habitat needs in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
Canada lynx thrive in the wilderness of Canada and as well as Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Wyoming in the United States. Other states support smaller populations. In 2000, the USFWS officially listed Canada lynx as a threatened species in 13 states.
Canada lynx kittens grow up to look like this adult in approximately two years. Adult Canada lynx differ from bobcats (Lynx rufus) in that they sport long ear tufts that aid in hearing, have longer legs and bigger feet, and tend to be more gray compared to the spotted bobcat.
Lynx kittens spend their first five weeks in their den. Between seven to nine months of age they begin to hunt. By the beginning of the breeding season on the next year, the kittens are ready to leave mom's side, though they might not breed themselves for another year.
The team of wildlife biologists, students, and volunteers from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries, University of Maine, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that conducted the 2010 lynx research pose with the kittens.