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Haywood, Carl N. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume 75 (1987)

Thiel, Richard P.
The status of Canada lynx in Wisconsin, 1865-1980,   pp. 90-96 PDF (2.7 MB)

Page 90

The Status of Canada Lynx in Wisconsin, 1865-1980 
Richard P. Thiel 
Abstract. Eighty lynx (Felis canadensis) collected as museum specimens from
Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin were associated with periods of lynx invasions
from Canada between 1865 and 1980. Historically, the lynx community in Wisconsin
probably did not comprise a permanent self-sustaining population but rather
was periodically replenished by lynx invasions from Canada. The continued
lynx population probably did not persist in Wisconsin much beyond 1900. Factors
such as lynx vulnerability, lack of adequate remote habitat, and Lake Superior
(which prevents direct lynx movements to and from Canada) inhibit establishment
of a Wisconsin lynx population. 
Canada lynx, an intermediate-sized The present study was undertaken to (1)
feline, ranges throughout the boneal determine the status of the lynx popubalife
zone of North America, and Wiscon- tion in Wisconsin in relation to lynx
status sin lies on the southern edge of its con- and distribution elsewhere
in the upper tinental range. Lynx populations are in- Great Lakes Region
and (2) bring together ruptive and closely follow the population the scattered
Wisconsin lynx records so cycles of their primary prey, snowshoe that future
researchers may have easier hares (Lepus americanus) (Keith 1963). access
to the available, albeit meager, Individual survival and lynx population
densities increase in response to periods of prey abundance. During and following
prey population crashes, lynx densities Methods 
decrease through emigration and lowered Wisconsin DNR carcass records were
survival rate of individuals. Reliable ad- reviewed, and in the upper Great
Lakes counts of lynx in the state are limited to states (UGLS) of Michigan,
Minnesota, records maintained by fun traders who and Wisconsin, museums were
queried to document that some lynx were encoun- obtain information on the
date, location, tered in historic times (Jackson 1961). The sex, and method
of take for each lynx persistence of reported sightings, tracks specimen.
Data on date and location of (Pils and Swanbeng 1963; Pils and Bluett specimens
were then compared with docu1984; Schachtc 1965; Records-Bureau of mented
Canadian lynx irruptions (Elton Endangered Resources, DNR), and even a and
Nichobsen 1942; Keith 1963; Gundemfew specimens (Doll et ab. 1957; Jondahl
son 1978; Mech 1980) to assess whether 1956) have led some observers to conclude
the occurrence of UGLS lynx specimens that a permanent lynx population current-
were associated with periods of midby exists in Wisconsin. continental invasions.
Regional literature, 
including scientific periodicals, local 
Richard P. TIne! is a member of the Bureau of En-   . 
dangered Resources, Wisconsin Department of histories, newspapers, and the
NaturaiResources, Madison, WI. questionnaires (which solicit observations

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