December 14, 2007
WATERBURY, VT – Two of Vermont’s endangered furbearers, the Canada lynx and American marten, are finding the forest habitat of the Northeast Kingdom to their liking, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
In the last two years, there have been several confirmed Canada lynx sightings in region. Wildlife biologists found Canada lynx tracks several times in the northern Vermont forest, and a lynx was mistakenly killed in protecting farm animals from predation in Derby this fall.
Historic accounts of Canada lynx in Vermont reveal that they were never as numerous as bobcats. Prior to the Derby animal, the last time there was a confirmed occurrence of a lynx in Vermont was in St. Albans in 1968.
Looking a lot like their cousin, the bobcat, Canada lynx have two-inch ear tufts and facial ruffs on their cheeks that are larger than those of bobcats. Canada lynx have longer legs and larger, heavily furred feet that enable them to travel easily on snow. Lynx generally have more gray and less red color in their fur than bobcats.
In the Northeast, Canada lynx also occur in Maine, New Hampshire and Canada. Habitat connectivity across state and international borders allows the lynx to move long distances in search of prey.
Snowshoe hare are their principal prey. Good hare habitat consists of areas with young, low-growing spruce, balsam fir and cedar. These young-aged coniferous forests are commonly found following timber harvests, and Vermont’s northeast region has the highest amount of young-aged forests in the state.
The American marten also seems to be increasing in the Northeast Kingdom. Marten were reintroduced, without success, in the late 1980s and early 1990s on U.S. Forest Service lands in southern Vermont. In recent years, however, marten have been confirmed in the northeastern part of the state.
Martens are long, slender-bodied cousins of the fisher. They are about two-thirds the size of a house cat, or about the same size as a mink. They have relatively long, rounded ears, short limbs and a furred tail that is noticeably bushier than a mink’s. Their fur is soft and thick, varying in color from pale buff or yellow to reddish or dark brown. The animals' throats are pale buff. Their tails and legs are dark brown.
“We would like people who roam the northern woods to be on the lookout for tracks or other evidence of these species and let Fish & Wildlife know if they see a lynx or marten,” said Kim Royar, wildlife biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
Lynx and marten are protected under Vermont law, and illegal taking can result in severe penalties. Fish & Wildlife is urging licensed hunters or trappers, who harvest the more common bobcat and fisher during the regulated open season, to learn how to distinguish a lynx and marten from a bobcat or fisher.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has placed the publication “How to Avoid the Incidental Take of Lynx” on its website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com, click on Department LibraryFactsheetsFurbearers) to provide more information to hunters and trappers. You can report a lynx or marten sighting by calling Kim Royar at 802-885-8831.
Source: Agency of Natural Resources
Last Updated at: December 14, 2007 15:43:16