Preserving Lynx in Washington State

Dec 05 2022
Photo Credit David Moskovitz

Washington's North Cascades are home to our state's last remaining population of Canada lynx, but they are facing an uncertain future because of the impact of massive wildfires in their habitat.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has invested almost $300,000 to support large-scope, interdisciplinary project aimed at providing important information for the conservation of Canada lynx in our state. As the image below shows, the dark green areas show the lynx habitat and the orange areas show where fires burned.

Map courtesy of Home Range Wildlife Research

The left image shows 1970 to 1999, while the right image shows 2000-2021.

As we can see, the North Cascades lynx habitat has flip-flopped from being mostly unburned to mostly burned. These maps convey that wildlife are experiencing a dramatic change to their habitats due to the frequency and size of fires in the past 20 years.

This winter, Home Range Wildlife Research will begin an analysis of the impact North Cascades megafires have had on Washington's lynx population. Learning how lynx respond to megafires, is no small undertaking, but we believe that good data informs positive actions and impact.

The project will require years of live-trapping and GPS collaring lynx, backtracking lynx in the snow to record the details of the habitat they use, and setting large trail camera arrays, all of which takes crews of skilled biologists and wildlife trackers to accomplish.

This type of investment in long-term data will allow conservation organizations like Home Range to invest their resources to discover what burned habitats lynx do and do not use, and based on that work with agency partners like the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to craft forest treatment plans that respond to lynx behaviors and habitat needs.

It is our hope that research like this can help advance conservation efforts and help protect biodiversity in Washington state. 

Learn more at Home Range Wildlife Research.