Montana Trappers Association

Working Today For a Tomorrow in Trapping.
Furbearers Are A Natural Renewable Resource.

Canada Lynx


Cat Family

Classification: Fur Bearing Wildlife Species

Felis lynx


Status: Internationally important component of the wild fur industry.  Very valuable fur animal.  Official Montana furbearer managed and protected by regulated fur harvest seasons.


Note: The lynx was given 'Threatened' status under the Endangered Species Act in 2000.


Identifying Characteristics: Noticeably larger than the bobcat.  This medium-sized cat has large feet and long legs in proportion to its body size.  A very short tail.  Winter pelage is a grizzled grayish-brown mixed with buff or pale brown.  The belly, legs, and feet are grayish-white or buff white.  The light fur of the underparts makes lynx pelts so valuable.  Very broad paws produce a snowshoelike effect that enables the animal to traverse deep snow easily.  Dense fur tends to exaggerate body size.


Total length: 28 to 37 inches.  Weight: Approximately 35 pounds.


Habitat: Forested areas, swamps.  Good snowshoe hare habitat is good lynx habitat.  Snowshoe hares prefer diverse forest with alternate stands of conifer cover and shrubby openings for feeding.  Lynx is a species of the heavy forest.


Food Habits: Lynx feed almost entirely on snowshoe hares.  Other foods include mice, squirrels, and grouse.  Only snowshoe hares can support high-density lynx populations.


Life History: Primarily nocturnal and solitary.  Secretive and difficult to observe in the wild as lynx prefer higher altitudes and area away from civilization.  Mates during spring; young are born during May and June after a 62 day gestation.  Litter size is from one to four and averages two.  Dens in hollow logs, beneath roots, and other sheltered places.  The near total dependency on snowshoe hares for food has locked lynx populations into the snowshoe hare life cycle.


Similar Species: Bobcat - paws are much larger and legs longer than bobcat.  Lynx has a lighter, less spotted, pelage.  Tip of the tail on the lynx is all black.  Lynx has long tufts of hair on the ear tips.  Black fur on the back of the lower hind legs of the bobcat contrasts with the lighter beige fur of the lynx.

CLOSED SEASON. Accidentally trapped and released lynx (uninjured) must be reported to a designated Fish, Wildlife & Parks employee within five (5) days of release. Trappers that accidentally capture a lynx that cannot be released uninjured must immediately notify a designated Fish Wildlife & Parks employee for assistance to determine disposition and/or collection of the animal. It is unlawful for any person to retain possession of a furbearer after a species limit has been met, a trapping district quota has been reached, or a season is closed (MCA 87-3-501).


  How To Avoid Incidental Take of Lynx

Did You Know?

Jim Bridger (1804-1881). Trapper, scout, mountain man. One of first white men to see the future Yellowstone Park and Great Salt Lake, which he believed to be an arm of the Pacific Ocean. Became partner of Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1830 and established Fort Bridger in Wyoming Territory in 1842. Laid out routes for the Central Overland Stage and Pike's Peak Express Company. Returned to Missouri in 1867 where died on his farm on July 17, 1881.


Rendezvous were held on a yearly basis at various locations until 1840, mainly in Wyoming, but Pierre's Hole in Idaho and Bear Lake in northwest Utah were favorite sites as well.


Fort Manuel Lisa was established in 1807 by Manuel Lisa at the mouth of the Big Horn River near Hysham. This was the first permanent settlement in Montana and was occupied until 1811.


John Jacob Astor was the first prominent member of the Astor family and the first multi-millionaire in the US. He amassed his wealth through fur-trading, opium smuggling, and New York City real estate. Famed patron of the arts. At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest person in the US.


In 1919, the Hudson’s Bay Company was approaching its 250th year in business. What began in a coffee house in London, in 1670, had now grown to become the undisputed leader of the international fur trade.


The desire for beaver fur hats in European men’s fashions dates back centuries and spurred the development of the 17th century North American fur trade. Beaver fur was the most prized of the fur trade because of its water repellant qualities. Encouraged by European trade goods, natives hunted beaver to extinction in some areas.