Canada lynx are a priority issue for the Cascadia Partner Forum. They are also a conservation target identified in the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative’s Strategic Conservation Framework and the Yakama Nation’s Climate Adaptation Planning effort. They are a cold adapted, threatened species that occurs at the southern edge of its range in Washington and other parts of the United States. Lynx populations at the southern range edge have experienced substantial declines in recent decades. A variety of factors, including loss of connectivity among populations, declining snow pack, and demographic fluctuations, may be contributing to this range contraction. Recent large scale fires have dramatically altered the habitat availability for lynx in the short-term, while proactive measures to protect existing lynx habitat from fire and ecological restoration of forest habitats forests will better help the species and habitat respond to future fires.
Future climate changes may present additional challenges and needs for lynx habitat connectivity. First, climate change may impact lynx core habitat and dispersal corridors in ways that make them more or less permeable to movement. Second, existing lynx core habitat and corridors may be distributed on the landscape in ways that make them more or less able to accommodate climate driven shifts in lynx distributions.
Further complicating Canada lynx conservation is the fact that southern populations of this species occur along the US-Canada border, with each country having different management guidelines for lynx. In the United States, lynx are a protected (threatened) species; in Canada, lynx are a furbearer managed for commercial and recreational harvest through trapping and hunting. Given that lynx populations in southern Canada may serve as source populations for lynx in the United States, with dispersing lynx from Canada bolstering US populations and preventing their decline, increased coordination on management goals is a priority for our forum.
We have formed a Transboundary Canada Lynx Working Group that meets regularly to discuss monitoring, management, and recovery priorities and increase coordination across the border. This working group includes participation from federal, state, and provincial agencies as well as NGO’s, First Nations, tribes, and researchers. In our work on this species, we expand beyond the traditional boundaries of Cascadia to include the transboundary Kettle River Range population as well.
Further information on Canada lynx management, conservation, monitoring, and related resources for the Cascadia region:
- Draft Periodic Status Review for the Lynx in Washington (July 2016), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- US Fish and Wildlife Service webpage for Canada lynx
- Furbearer Management Guidelines – Lynx (May 2003), Hatler and Beal 2003 provides trappers with information to properly manage fur harvests.
- BC developed a draft Lynx Management Plan in 2015, a final plan has not been released yet.
- Climate impacts and adaptation actions for Canada lynx– an appendix with associated data layers from The Washington-British Columbia Transboundary Climate-Connectivity Project.
- Canada lynx proposed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for their Preliminary Climate Watch List in the 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan due to their high vulnerability to climate change and high confidence in that ranking.
- Working for Wildlife Initiative – a collaborative effort led by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation aimed at maintaining and restoring the habitat connection between the Cascade Mountains and Kettle River Range in Washington that identifies Canada lynx as a focal species.
- Science from the Cascadia Partner Forum landscape: Canada lynx use of burned areas: Conservation implications of changing fire regimes (2017). Vanbianchi et al.