Glacier National Park is home to around 50 Canada lynx, more than expected, surprising scientists who recently conducted the first parkwide occupancy survey for the North American cat.

Daniel Thornton.

The Washington State University-led survey reveals the iconic predator resides across most of Glacier’s 1,600 square-mile landscape, although at lower densities than in the core of its range further north.

“The population in the park is still substantial and exceeded our expectations,” said Dan Thornton, WSU wildlife ecologist and senior author of the study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. “Our results suggest the park could provide a much-needed climate refuge for the cats in the future.”

Alissa Anderson.

“Most surveys for lynx happen in the winter when you can use bait to lure the animals to live traps,” said Alissa Anderson, a recent WSU master’s graduate and first author on the study. “Glacier is sort of unique in the sense that it is a difficult place to survey in the wintertime. There aren’t really maintained roads and you can’t use snowmobiles. It is extremely difficult to access compared to other areas.”

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