The Eurasian lynx, Lynx lynx, is a medium-sized wild cat found throughout Europe and Asia. There are six recognized subspecies of Eurasian lynx and three more currently under investigation. They are cousins to the North American bobcat, but are much larger with longer legs and bodies. The Eurasian lynx is the largest member of the genus Lynx and is the only one to primarily hunt large ungulates like deer.
Historically, the Eurasian lynx held a large range from Scandinavia through to the east coast of Siberia in Asia and down into Central Asia. The Eurasian lynx also held much of Western Europe where there was dense forest, though it was absent from the Iberian Peninsula and many of the islands like Sicily and Ireland. In Europe, threats to the Eurasian lynx include persecution from hunters, habitat fragmentation from infrastructure development, habitat loss (deforestation), and accidental mortality due to human interaction. In Asia, threats to the Eurasian lynx are very similar, but also include habitat loss due to resource extraction and logging activities and poaching. Today, the Eurasian lynx occupies much of its historic range and continues to be found across Europe and Asia from Scandinavia to the east coast of Siberia and south into the Tibetan Plateau.
Eurasian lynx inhabit a wide variety of ecological conditions across many climates and elevations. In Northern Europe and throughout Asia, the Eurasian lynx is found in dense temperate and boreal forests that can support good ungulate populations as well as provide cover for hunting. In the Central Asian steppes and plateaus, the Eurasian Lynx in more open and thinly wooded areas. It has been observed in thick scrubland as well as the rocky, barren areas above the tree line in the Northern Himalayan Mountains. In Europe, the Eurasian lynx is found from mediterranean forests up into the transition zones of taiga and tundra to the north.
Home ranges for the Eurasian lynx vary greatly from climate to climate and can be anywhere from 100 to over 1,000 kilometers in total area. Males’ ranges typically overlap or enclose one or two females’ territories, with population density generally between one and three lynx per 100 kilometers.
The Eurasian lynx is the largest of the three lynx and the only one to primarily hunt ungulates. These cats can take down prey ranging from 15 kg musk deer to 220 kg adult male red deer, though they show a preference for smaller ungulate prey like roe deer, chamois reindeer, and musk deer. Prey also includes smaller mammals, such as fox, hare, marmot, beaver, wild pig, birds, and domestic animals when available.
Luga arrived in 2017 and became the newest member of the illustrious Conservators Center lynx “legacy.” He’s an exemplar of the solitary nature of his kind, huffing and puffing his sincere disapproval anytime an unfamiliar person encroaches on his newfound home...especially if they make the mistake of sidling up too close to his precious den box “man cave.” The big, bad wolf exterior is mostly just for show, though, as the Luga behind the facade of sharp fangs and long claws is helpless to resist when presented with fun enrichment like a fresh lime to scent roll on or a nice solid cardboard box to tuck into. He is a silent sentry for the Center, guarding the entrance to the park with his sea-green eyes and ever-flitting ear tufts. But even this stoic guardian can be persuaded to let loose and have a little fun when the mood strikes!
2017 was truly the year of the lynx: Blitz came to the Center soon after Luga and happily settled in with us, totally comfortable with his surroundings. Visitors will usually find him lounging on a platform, watching his immediate vicinity with a certain delighted, at-ease gleam in his eye. Because he is a retired outreach animal, he sees us strange two-legged folk as companions who bring treats, sweet talk, and other forms of affection. Blitz loudly purrs his approval when he is pleased, and woofs his displeasure if he finds anything amiss. He might not like us to share this, but he becomes very silly for a good scent on cardboard, complete with profuse drool and rolling around -- pumpkin and peppermint are among his favorites. Blitz also likes to politely nibble on an offering of some tender grass.