SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lynx canadensis
HABITAT: Dense, intact boreal forests or similar type forests found in U.S.
LIFE HISTORY: Very secretive. Crepuscular (active during twilight); hunts from perch and pounces on passing prey. Population often correlates directly with natural fluctuations of snowshoe hare populations.
THREATS: Habitat loss and fragmentation due to development
FORMER RANGE: Northern U.S. from Maine to Washington
CURRENT POPULATION: Unknown
With its big floppy feet and pointy ear tufts, the Canada lynx looks like a creature out of a Tolkien novel. The lynx's long ear tufts accentuate its hearing, and large feet help it navigate deep snow to hunt down its favorite prey, the equally well-shod snowshoe hare.
The lynx once lived in great forests from Washington to Maine -- small populations can still be found in many northern states, including in the Great Lakes region -- but today the lynx is so rare in the United States that it might well seem fictional. These beautiful cats were hunted for their pelts in the 1970s and 1980s, and today, disappearing forests and roadbuilding are fragmenting lynx habitat.
After years of advocacy by conservationists, a reintroduction effort was launched in Colorado. The Canada lynx was listed as a threatened species in 2000.