In last week’s Inside Idaho, we dove into the story behind the bull trout – a big, aggressive native fish found in cool lakes and rivers that you can cast for but not keep. That’s because it’s listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
This week, we go into Idaho’s forests and take a look at the elusive cat that’s also listed as threatened.
Often confused with the bobcat, the Canada Lynx is a medium-sized cat. They have long legs, large paws, and big bodies weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. Other ways they are identified – the tips of both their ears and tail are black.
Lynx in Idaho
In 2000, lynx were designated as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species in the lower 48 states.
The last sighting was near the Lochsa River and was confirmed by a Forest Service wildlife biologist in the early 2000s. They can travel up to five miles a day, and biologists rely mainly on their paw prints in the snow to confirm their presence.
According to Idaho Fish and Game, only 40 lynx have been recorded since the late 1800s, and fewer than 100 are believed to roam Idaho’s dense, high elevation forests.
They also usually only hunt at night for their main source of food – the snowshoe hare. They also eat red squirrels and birds.
“Populations have been splintered by habitat loss and fragmentation largely due in part to road building and logging of old-growth forests,” the Friends of the Clearwater website notes. “Off-road vehicles and snowmobiles threaten biological connectivity, too.”
The website also notes that incidental trapping remains a problem in Idaho. For more information on the lynx in Idaho, click here.