The Canada lynx and Conservation Northwest's commitment to protecting it in Washington state and the transboundary forests shared with British Columbia, Canada.
Wild cat of the Loomis–and more
Washington State is home to one of the last and largest Canada lynx populations remaining in the United States, perhaps 150 animals, ranging from the North Cascades and Loomis Forest east to the Columbia Highlands and Selkirk Mountains. Along with bobcat and cougar, lynx are one of three wild cat species in North America. They are the most scarce.
With your help, we've worked hard to ensure that this magnificent animal continues to thrive and recover across the Pacific Northwest. With the help of thousands of Washingtonians, in 1999 we successfully protected the Loomis Forest, 25,000 acres of top lynx habitat.
In 2000, with a population perilously low, the Canada lynx was finally protected under the Endangered Species Act and listed as threatened in Washington–a decade after Conservation Northwest filed the original petition urging its protection.
Now, Conservation Northwest is helping protect lynx in Washington in other ways as well, including redirecting logging outside of lynx critical habitat.
Lynx were often trapped for sport during the last century. Today, aggressive logging, roadbuilding, and development of lynx habitat has severely fragmented their living space. Snowmobile trails and roads pose problems for lynx because these packed-snow pathways give high-country access to cougar and coyote (which can eat lynx), and bobcat (which compete with lynx). As said so well by author Scott McMillion for The Nature Conservancy magazine, "The lynx has evolved to scrape a living from the dense boreal forests of North America, places where winter is the lean season, and it lasts a long time."
- Lynx are considered a boreal species. Lynx are specially adapted to the deep snows of northern forests, where their massive paws keep them afloat in their snowy open forest and boreal habitat.
- Smaller than a cougar but bigger than a bobcat, Canada lynx have silvery fur and black ear tufts. Their tails are shorter than a bobcat's! Read more on lynx by authority Gary Koehler
- Snowshoe hares, the lynx's preferred food, thrive in the dense cover of a brushy forest understory. Lynx are adapted to the natural fire cycle of lodgepole pine. Fire opens cones and releases seeds, to create supple new shoots that feed snowshoe hares. Check out our article about the snowshoe hare and the science of predator-prey relationships.
- Lynx need older forests, with plenty of snags, downed logs, and woody cover for hunting and denning.
Ensuring a future for a rare forest cat
US Fish and Wildlife Service biologists originally identified large areas of the West, including northern Washington, as critical to survival of lynx. Political meddling led the agency in 2007 to slash the area named as potential critical habitat by 90%.
A federal called for a proposal revision in 2008, but the wildlife agency still excluded a significant amount of critical habitat, including the Kettle River Range in the Columbia Highlands. The Kettles have high quality habitat that can help to connect lynx populations between the Cascade and Rocky Mountains, something biologists deem essential to lynx recovery.
In January 2011, wildlife officials agreed to revise their flawed proposal for critical lynx habitat. They are in the process of expanding the potential range of habitat to include the Kettles.