The lynx has unusually large paws that act as snow shoes in very deep snow.
The lynx is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Once hunted and trapped for their fur, the lynx is now protected from all hunting in the U.S., except in Montana and Alaska. The greatest threat faced by lynx today is the destruction and overuse of their habitat. Because lynx need large areas of undisturbed forest, road building creates barriers and isolates populations. Recreational activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, and the use of sport utility vehicles also displace lynx from forests.
In the lower 48 states, as few as 700 to 1,200 lynx exist.
Lynx in the wild tend to live 10 to 15 years.
Lynx have complex needs for habitat. They require a mosaic of forest types, including young trees for hunting their primary prey (snowshoe hares), old-growth trees for building their dens, and something in the middle to act as a corridor between the two.
They historically occupied four geographically distinct areas within the continental United States. These areas included the Northeast, the Great Lakes states, the northern Rocky Mountains/ Cascades, and the southern Rocky Mountains. Today, lynx are known to occur only in Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, and possibly in Michigan. A recent reintroduction program has begun in Colorado.
Lynx usually hunt and travel alone and are slightly more active at night than by day. They are specialized hunters and can survive only where there are adequate snowshoe hare populations. Lynx occasionally prey on mice, voles, grouse, ptarmigan, and red squirrel.
Lynx are found in Denali National Park and Preserve, AK; Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, AK; Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, AK; Katmai National Park and Preserve, AK; Kenai Fjords National Park, AK; Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK; Kobuk Valley National Park, AK; Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, AK; Noatak National Preserve, AK; Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, AK; Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI; Voyageurs National Park, MN; Glacier National Park, MT; North Cascades National Park, WA; Grant Teton National Park, WY; and Yellowstone National Park, WY.