It’s National Cat Day! We’ve got lots of cats but don’t even think about petting one. DNR has an all-outdoor population of felines living on the millions of acres of state trust lands we manage… and none of them are ‘fixed!’ Many of these felines in our care are cougars and bobcats, but one cat in particular—the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)–is worthy of special attention because it is the rarest of the three cat species native to Washington state. Perhaps fewer than 50 Canada lynx remain in Washington.
With their large feet and long legs, lynx are well designed for hunting in their native ranges: the mountains of north-central and northeastern Washington. Unfortunately, the continuity of this forest landscape has become fragmented over the decades, which has contributed to declines in the numbers of snowshoe hares–a primary food source for the lynx. Since 1996, we’ve been following our Lynx Habitat Management Plan—one of the most comprehensive conservation plans for lynx in the United States. We use this plan to guide forest activities in an effort to create and preserve high-quality lynx habitat.
To better understand of how lynx use certain habitats throughout the year, and how past and future land management has affected them, DNR works with other agencies, including the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, each winter to track and capture the lynx, put radio collars on them (for GPS tracking) and examine and chart their health.