Occasional lynx sightings in the late 1990’s prompted initial surveys for Canada lynx in the western Great Lakes area. These surveys were carried out under the National Lynx Survey (NLS) protocol. The National Lynx Survey was designed to detect the presence of Canada lynx following a specific protocol using scent stations and hair snares to snag hairs. The NLS protocol was followed beginning in 1998 for sampling areas of about 100 mi2 in the Ottawa National Forest in the western portion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Nicolet National Forest in northeastern Wisconsin, the Chequamegan National Forest in northcentral Wisconsin, the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, and the Chippewa National Forest in northcentral Minnesota.
Although the NLS protocol has been successful in detecting lynx presence in the western states (MT, WY, WA), there were no hits with lynx hairs found on the snag pads in the Great Lakes region, while a half dozen hits with bobcat hairs were found. Canada lynx were present in the areas where the NLS protocol failed to detect their presence. Results of the application of the NLS protocol in the upper Midwest are in this Technical Report.
Therefore, it was necessary to consider other methods to determine current distribution of Canada lynx. One of these methods was relying on professionals and the general public to report Canada lynx sightings. The value of a sightings database increases with time. The database has been in existence for about 4 years, and the pattern of sightings indicate that Canada lynx distribution, in Minnesota at least, approaches the historical distribution in the state. Some of these sightings are unconfirmed, other sightings records come with photographic or video evidence. While one might want to discount the unconfirmed sightings, the large number and geographic consistency of reported sightings suggest that some confidence in obtaining current distribution from the public reporting of sightings is warranted.
Canada Lynx sightings in Minnesota (March 2000 - November 18,
2003). Taken from MN DNR website, December 2003. Click here to visit original website, and to check for updated maps.