A Technical Report that can be downloaded from the publications page describes methods and results of applying the Interagency National Lynx Detection Protocol in the Upper Midwest states.
This protocol is modified from McKelvey and McDaniel (unpubl. ms.). Portions of the protocol are also described in McKelvey et al. (2000). Methods used in the National Lynx Survey as implemented in the National Forests of the Great Lakes states are described here.
At the fine scale, placing scent stations 100 m apart and perpendicular to the major slope produces a structure which will be encountered reliably by lynx moving through the country and removes the small scale differences associated with station placement. At a broader scale, the protocol requires placing no fewer than 25 transects at a density of 1 transect per every 2 square miles for a period of 2-4 weeks for an area to be adequately sampled. The grid should start at a random location. Recommendations are generally to sample in cover types and areas which there is some evidence of historical occurrence.
Select a tree that is greater than 3 cm dbh; preferably one that had a good canopy, few low branches and shrubs. Clear all brush and branches 1.5 m from the ground on one side of the tree. Nail a hair-snare onto the tree with the center of the hair-snare 18 in from the ground. Hang a small carpet pad from a nearby tree branch (5 ft from the ground) using about 1.5 ft of wire. From the carpet pad hang an aluminum pie-pan (8-9 in diameter, center 3 ft from the ground) using at least 12 lb fishing line with a brass swivel halfway between carpet pad and pie-pan. Shape the pie-pan in a S-shape so that it spins from wind. Two vertical right-angle folds in opposite directions are made to get this S-shape
Usually it is best to prepare hair-snares before going into the field. Mix beaver castoreum with propylene glycol and glycerin in a 6:1:1 ratio. Add 6 drops of catnip oil to 1 oz of this mixture. Put 1/3 oz of this mixture on each hair-snare and small carpet pad that is hung from a tree branch. Squeeze dried catnip between your fingers to help release the odor and sprinkle onto the hair-snare. No dried catnip is put onto the small carpet pad that is hung from the tree branch.
Check stations for lynx hair after a 2-week period. If no hair is found on hair-snare, re-bait station and check again after another 2-week period using the same procedures as was used to set up the station.
When you find hair, then put hair into a sealed plastic vial with desiccant using tweezers and surgical gloves. Ensure that you do not touch the hair with your fingers. Oils from your fingers will inhibit genetic analysis. Label samples with your initials, regional location, site number, station number and date. Place remaining hair and hair-snares into a plastic bag that is labeled and stored. Store hair samples and the pads in a cool (or cold), dry place and mail as quickly as possible to the Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Missoula Montana.