Fundraising Campaign Underway for Canada Lynx

Sightings of the elusive Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) have been on the rise over the past decade in the Granite State – including the exciting observation of four lynx kittens this November in northern New Hampshire. A special fundraising effort is now underway through the N.H. Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program to develop a conservation plan for Canada lynx, document their presence in the state and determine the location of prime lynx habitat.

“Our current fundraising appeal is centered on the lynx project, making it especially exciting to get confirmation of the news of the lynx kittens in the midst of it,” said John Kanter, Nongame Program coordinator. “To support and participate in this work, people can help with their donations.”

Male Canada lynx captured with trail camera in fall 2011; Copyright Peter Abdu and Cameron Ehle

Tax-deductible contributions to help fund the New Hampshire Canada lynx effort and other critical Nongame Program projects may be sent to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301. Make checks payable to NH Fish and Game/Nongame Program. For a print-and-mail contribution form, click here.

Canada lynx are endangered in New Hampshire and were added to the federal list of “threatened” species in 2000. Lynx are large cats, 15-38 pounds and three feet long, distinguished by tufts on their ears, short tails that are often ringed and tipped with black, and large paws that help them navigate through deep snow. “Historically, lynx were found in the White Mountains and to the north,” said Lindsay Webb, a biologist with the Nongame Program. “We are excited to get out and do surveys this winter and look for evidence of them.”

Work of the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is made possible by the generous donations of individuals and businesses, which help N.H. Fish and Game qualify for critical Federal and State matching funds.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is the steward for species not hunted, fished or trapped. Through wildlife monitoring and management, plus outreach and education, the Nongame Program works to protect over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as thousands of insects and other invertebrates. Learn more here.

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New Hope for Canada Lynx in Northern NH

Fish and Game biologists have confirmed the presence of four Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in northern New Hampshire. The fact that the lynx appeared to be kittens is evidence that the wild cats are breeding in N.H., an expansion of the population across the border in Maine.

In November and December 2011, four lynx were seen and photographed in two locations in Pittsburg, N.H., on two different dates. It is unknown whether the four individuals were the same on the two occasions, but it seems likely based on the close proximity of the sightings.

Male Canada lynx captured with trail camera in fall 2011; Copyright Peter Abdu and Cameron Ehle

“The presence of lynx in New Hampshire demonstrates the effectiveness of the wildlife and habitat work that’s been done in this region over many years. It’s exciting!” said Fish and Game wildlife biologist Will Staats. “We expected the population to expand into the state eventually, and we’ve been seeing signs for a few years that they were at least passing through.” Since 2006, there have been seven cases where lynx tracks have been seen and photographed in New Hampshire’s North Country. In spring of this year, Staats himself witnessed an adult lynx crossing a rural road up north.

“Until now, we’ve considered lynx in New Hampshire to represent animals that were wandering from the larger lynx population that is present in Maine as a result of recent declines in snowshoe hare abundance,” said Anthony Tur, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Lynx are highly reliant on snowshoe hare as a food source. There are an estimated 600 to 1,200 lynx in Maine, concentrated in the northern part of the state.

Fish and Game wildlife biologist Will Staats points out the size of Canada lynx tracks. Copyright NH Fish and Game.

“Lynx are an amazing predator, and they were historically a small but significant part of the wildlife mix in New Hampshire,” said Steve Weber, Chief of Fish and Game’s wildlife division. In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Weber stated, “We’re actively monitoring lynx in the state and taking steps to ensure the health and growth of the population.”

“Serendipitously, Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program recently received funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to initiate formal surveys for lynx,” John Kanter, Nongame Program coordinator, said. “The sightings add a note of excitement to our efforts. The Nongame Program’s recent fundraising appeal centered on the lynx project, and the timing of this discovery will hopefully help to engage more wildlife enthusiasts as supporters and donors to the program.”

Lynx are listed as “endangered” in New Hampshire and as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. They occurred in small numbers in New Hampshire through the 1960s; the last documented lynx in New Hampshire was a road-killed animal found in 1993.

At about 3 feet long and 15-30 pounds, Canada lynx are at least twice the size of the average house cat. They have long, strong legs; short tails; prominent ear tufts; and long sideburn-style hair on the sides of their face. Lynx are often recognized by their huge, furry paws, which help them travel over deep snow. Because of lynx’s reliance on snowshoe hare, their preferred habitat is young, regenerating forests that offer excellent hare habitat. New Hampshire is at the southern end of the Canada lynx’s natural range. More information on lynx in the United States may be found here.

N.H. Fish and Game is the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources. Visit their website.

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