Canada lynx are losing ground in Washington state, even as federal officials are taking steps to remove the species’ threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.

Daniel Thornton.

A massive monitoring study led by Washington State University researchers has found lynx on only about 20% of its potential habitat in the state. The study, published recently in the Journal of Wildlife Management, covered more than 4,300 square miles (7,300 km) in northeastern Washington with camera traps but detected lynx in only 29 out of 175 monitored areas.

The results paint an alarming picture not only for the persistence of lynx but many other cold-adapted species, said Dan Thornton, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment.

Travis King.

To document the elusive animals, WSU graduate student in the School of the Environment, Travis King, the lead author on the study, covered thousands of kilometers and spent two summers in the field. He also relied upon many partners and volunteers, ranging from government natural resource agency employees and conservation groups to hikers and citizen scientists. The researchers and volunteers deployed and collected 650 camera traps which generated more than 2 million images which were, in turn, sorted with the help of dozens of WSU student volunteers.

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