Canada lynx aren’t known for dumpster diving in the suburbs or poaching cattle off the range. They have yet to be filmed chasing a biker down a trail. Instead, lynx tend to give wide berth to humans, preferring isolated forested areas filled with snow and their favorite prey, snowshoe hare.

Daniel Thornton.

Since lynx won’t come to us, a research team led by Washington State University wildlife biologist Dan Thornton has been bringing cameras to them. Last year, the researchers published results of a massive project to place camera traps across more than 4,300 square miles of northeastern Washington. They found lynx present on only about 20 percent of their potential habitat.

“Because lynx are so endangered in the state, they are impacted by changes that are happening every year,” Thornton said. “If we have a monitoring program in place, we can look at the effects of any management practices we might implement. This is really important for a species that’s on the edge. It’s such a dynamic landscape with both fire and changes to snowpack. We want this type of continuous data, so we can examine those changes.”

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