Eurasian lynx are one of the most widely distributed cat species. Their range once extended throughout Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. Today they occupy a range extending from western Europe through the Russian boreal forests and to the Tibetan Plateau and Central Asia. Eurasian lynx distribution is greatly limited by the presence of humans and their activities. They are less frequent in areas with many settlements, roads, railways, and highways as these increase fatality and injury. Also, because they tend to shy away from open areas, lynx distribution is dependent on regions with high forest cover as well as forest connectivity. Deforestation in regions throughout parts of their range limits forest connectivity and hindering dispersal of Lynx lynx throughout Europe and Asia.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
In Europe, it was probably absent from some of the larger islands such as Ireland and Sicily and from countries with few forests. It was also absent from the Iberian Peninsula, where the smaller Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus occurs. Lynx have been extirpated from most of western Europe. In central Europe, they survive only in the Carpathian Mountains and a small area of the south Dinaric Mountains in Greece, Macedonia and Albania, although larger populations persisted in Fennoscandia, the Baltic states, and European Russia. Lynx have been released in several areas of Europe in an effort to reintroduce this elusive predator including in Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and France (IUCN 2007).
Of the four lynx species, Eurasian lynx are the largest. They are also one of the largest predators in Europe, third to only brown bears and grey wolves. Their size ranges from 18 to 36 kg, body length is 70 to 130 cm and shoulder height is 60 to 65 cm. Sexual dimorphism is present, with males being larger and more robust.
The coat is varied in grey, rusty, or yellow fur. There are three main coat patterns: spotted, striped, and solid. Among those that are spotted, the pattern ranges among large spots, small spots, and rosettes. Patterns vary widely within and among regions. The belly, the front of the neck, the inside of the limbs, and the ears are whitish. The tail is short, with a solid black tip. Eurasian lynx have long legs, sharp retractable claws, a round face, and triangular ears. Characteristic features of Eurasian lynx are black tufts at the tips of the ears and a prominently flared facial ruff. The paws are large and fur-covered, which helps them to navigate in deep snow.
The skull of Eurasian lynx has characteristics typical of other felids : a short rostrum, rounded top, small M1, and lack of M2. They have features shared by other carnivorans as well: large, well-developed canines, and well-developed carnassial teeth. Unlike most other felids, Eurasian lynx have lost one upper premolar giving them the dental formula: I3/3 C1/1 P2/2 M1/1.
Range mass: 18 to 36 kg.
Range length: 70 to 130 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Eurasian lynx live in a variety of habitats. In Europe and Siberia they inhabit forested areas with dense ungulate populations. In Central Asia they are found in open, thinly wooded areas and rocky hills and mountains in desert regions. They are also found in rocky areas and thick woodlands throughout the northern slopes of the Himalayas.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: taiga ; desert or dune ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains
Other Habitat Features: agricultural
Habitat and Ecology
The Eurasian lynx is the largest lynx, and the only one to primarily take ungulate prey, although they rely on smaller prey where ungulates are less abundant (Nowell and Jackson 1996). In European Russia and western Siberia, where roe deer are absent, mountain hares and tetraonids form the basic prey base. Hares and birds are important prey also in other Central Asian regions where habitats are dryer and less forested (Breitenmoser and Breitenmoser-Würsten 2008, Matyushkin and Vaisfeld 2003). Lynx kill ungulates ranging in size from the 15 kg musk deer to 220 kg adult male red deer, but show a preference for the smallest ungulate species in the community (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Home range size varies widely (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), but averaged 248 km² for males (n = 5) and 133 km² for females (n = 5) in a radio telemetry study in Poland’s Bialowieza forest (Schmidt et al. 1997). Densities are typically 1-3 adults per 100 km², although higher densities of up to 5/100 km² have been reported from eastern Europe and parts of Russia (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).
Like other members of the family Felidae, Eurasian lynx are strict carnivores, consuming only meat. Other Lynx species are specialized rabbit and hare hunters. Eurasian lynx prey primarily on ungulates. Small ungulates such as roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), musk deer (g. Moschus species) and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) comprise most of their diet, but they have been known to prey on ungulates as large as elk and caribou in winter due to the prey’s vulnerability in deep snow. Eurasian lynx also supplement their diet with red foxes, rabbits and hares, rodents and birds. They kill prey up to 3 to 4 times their size and consume 1 to 2 kg of meat per day. Eurasian lynx stalk their prey from the cover of thick vegetation, using stealth to get close without being seen. They then pounce on prey, delivering a fatal bite to the neck or biting down on the snout until the animal suffocates. The kill is then taken to thick cover or fallen logs to be eaten in privacy. Prey that is not eaten right away is cached to be consumed later.
Eurasian lynx occur sympatrically with three other large predators throughout most of their range: grey wolves, brown bears, and wolverines. Brown bears are mainly omnivorous and don't compete strongly with lynx for prey. Where wolves and and Eurasian lynx co-occur, they generally coexist peacefully with neither of the two showing avoidance or attraction. This has been attributed to differences in primary prey selection and hunting styles. Grey wolves are larger than Eurasian lynx and primarily hunt red deer, while Eurasian lynx focus on roe deer and smaller ungulates. Eurasian lynx are solitary hunters, concealing themselves in thick vegetation, fallen logs, and snow to ambush prey. Conversely, grey wolves are pack hunters and found in a wider variety of habitats. Competition between these species may occur in areas where roe deer, red deer, or other ungulate prey is scarce. This may cause changes in hunting behavior and has contributed to sporadic intraguild predation of Eurasian lynx by grey wolves.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals
Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)
Eurasian lynx are the third largest carnivores throughout most of their range. As such they have the ability to influence the population sizes, distribution, and behaviors of some prey species. Ungulates make up the majority of their diets and they can consume 1 to 2.5 kg of meat per day. In regions where game hunting isn't practiced, Eurasian lynx may play a role in controlling deer populations. They can kill from 10 to 40% of roe deer, red deer, and chamois populations annually. This is highly dependent on lynx density, ungulate density, and other causes of ungulate mortality. The greatest impact is usually seen in roe deer and chamois populations. Eurasian lynx are also affected by numerous internal and external parasites.
- Diphyllobothrium latum
- Trichinella species
- Taenia laticollis
- Taenia hydatigena
- Taenia taeniaeformis
- Toxocara cati
Eurasian lynx have no natural predators, but there have been cases of intermittent killings by tigers, wolves, and wolverines.
- wolverines (Gulo gulo)
- grey wolves (Canis lupus)
- tigers (Panthera tigris)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Little is known about communication among Eurasian lynx. Their vocalizations are low and not often heard. They have keen eyesight and hearing, mainly used to locate prey and potential mates. Males and females mark their home territories with gland secretions and urine.
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Eurasian lynx can survive up to 17 years in the wild and 24 years in captivity. Juvenile mortality rate is high.
Status: wild: 2 to 17 years.
Status: wild: 5 years.
Status: captivity: 24 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 26.8 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Eurasian lynx mating season takes place from February to April of each year. Each female is fertile only about three days during this time. Once a male and receptive female encounter each other, they follow each other for days, copulating many times a day. Once the female is no longer in estrus, the male will leave to find another mate. Females have only one mate per season.
Mating System: polygynous
Gestation lasts 67 to 74 days, with females giving birth in May. Breeding interval varies, depending on success of previous season. Females without a litter will breed every year, females with a litter will breed about every 3 years. Typically 2 to 3 cubs comprise a litter, although litter size can range from 1 to 5 kittens. Newborn cubs weigh 300 to 350g and are dependent on their mother for food and protection. They are weaned at 4 months and become independent at around 10 months. Females become sexually mature at 2 years of age and can remain so up to 14 years of age, whereas males mature at 3 years of age and can reproduce up to age 17.
Breeding interval: Eurasian lynx males breed once yearly. Females breed once a year when there is no litter, and every three years when they successfully breed.
Breeding season: Eurasian lynx breed from February to April.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 5.
Average number of offspring: 2 to 3.
Range gestation period: 67 to 74 days.
Average gestation period: 69 days.
Average weaning age: 4 months.
Average time to independence: 10 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; induced ovulation ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 246.5 g.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 1004 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 639 days.
Females find a safe den space for their kittens, as in a hollow log or crevice. Females nurse and protect their young until independence. Once the cubs are old enough to travel they accompany the mother on hunting trips to learn how to hunt for themselves. Males do not contribute to the care of offspring.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Lynx lynx
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lynx lynx
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
Habitat loss due to deforestation, prey loss due to game hunting, and illegal hunting and trapping for the fur trade are the main threats to Lynx lynx. Commercial hunting is illegal in all countries except Russia and Eurasian lynx are protected in Afghanistan, where all hunting and trading is illegal. In the 1960’s and 70’s, some Eurasian lynx were re-introduced into Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland. These populations have been successful in some areas.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2002Near Threatened
The lynx's stronghold is a broad strip of southern Siberian woodland stretching through eastern Russia from the Ural mountains to the Pacific, and the Russian lynx population has been estimated at 30,000-35,000 (Matyushkin and Vaisfeld 2003). Although large portions of its range lie in China, status there is poorly known, and the government considers the population to be decreasing in a recent global survey of lynx status (Govt of US 2007). While lynx presence in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia is uncertain, in the country of Mongolia Matyushin and Vaisfeld (2003) estimate the lynx population at 10,000.
In a survey of 37 lynx range state governments, 30% considered their national populations to be decreasing, 35% stable, 14% stable to slightly increasing, 16% increasing, and 8% unknown (Govt of US 2007). The population in Afghanistan is considered to have decreased (Habibi 2004).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Throughout most of their range, Eurasian lynx are the third largest predators. They typically do not attack humans unless injured, trapped, or ill. Humans sometimes complain that Eurasian lynx reduce game abundance and kill livestock and domestic animals. In most European countries programs have been set up for farmers and herders to compensate them for losses.
Eurasian lynx came close to being endangered in the early 1900's as a result of hunting for fur. Currently, commercial hunting is illegal in all countries except Russia and Eurasian lynx are protected in Afghanistan, where all hunting and trading is illegal. However, illegal fur trades occur in some countries. In regions where game hunting isn't practiced, Eurasian lynx may play a role in controlling deer populations.
Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material
The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is a medium-sized cat native to European and Siberian forests, Central Asia and East Asia. It is also known as the European lynx, common lynx, the northern lynx, and the Siberian or Russian lynx. While its conservation status has been classified as "Least Concern", populations of Eurasian lynx have been reduced or extirpated from western Europe, where it is now being reintroduced.
The Eurasian lynx is the largest lynx species, ranging in length from 80 to 130 cm (31 to 51 in) and standing about 60–75 cm (24–30 in) at the shoulder. The tail measures 11 to 24.5 cm (4.3 to 9.6 in) in length. Males usually weigh from 18 to 30 kg (40 to 66 lb) and females weigh 8 to 21 kg (18 to 46 lb). Male lynxes from Siberia, where the species reaches the largest body size, can weigh up to 38 kg (84 lb) or reportedly even 45 kg (99 lb). It has powerful, relatively long legs, with large webbed and furred paws that act like snowshoes. It also possesses a short "bobbed" tail with an all-black tip, black tufts of hair on its ears, and a long grey-and-white ruff.
During the summer, the Eurasian lynx has a relatively short, reddish or brown coat, which tends to be more brightly coloured in animals living at the southern end of its range. In winter, however, this is replaced by a much thicker coat of silky fur that varies from silver-grey to greyish-brown. The underparts of the animal, including the neck and chin, are white at all times of the year. The fur is almost always marked with black spots, although the number and pattern of these are highly variable. Some animals also possess dark brown stripes on the forehead and back. Although spots tend to be more numerous in animals from southern populations, Eurasian lynx with heavily spotted fur may exist close to others with plain fur.
Eurasian lynx make a range of vocalizations, but are generally silent outside of the breeding season. They have been observed to mew, hiss, growl, and purr, and, like domestic cats, will "chatter" at prey that is just out of reach. Mating calls are much louder, consisting of deep growls in the male, and loud "meow"-like sounds in the female.
Eurasian lynx are secretive, and because the sounds they make are very quiet and seldom heard, their presence in an area may go unnoticed for years. Remnants of prey or tracks on snow are usually observed long before the animal is seen.
Lynx preys largely on small to fairly large sized mammals and birds. Among the recorded prey items for the species are hares, rabbits, marmots, squirrels, dormice, other rodents, mustelids (such as martens), grouse, red foxes, wild boar, chamois, young moose, roe deer, red deer, reindeer and other ungulates. Although taking on larger prey presents a risk to the animal, the bounty provided by killing them can outweigh the risks. The Eurasian lynx thus prefers fairly large ungulate prey, especially during winter when small prey is less abundant. They are the only Lynx species in which ungulates provide a great portion of their diet in relation to lagomorphs or rodents. Where common, roe deer appear to be the preferred prey species for the lynx. Even where roe deer are quite uncommon, the deer are still quantitatively the favored prey species, though in summer smaller prey and occasional domestic sheep are eaten more regularly. In parts of Finland, introduced white-tailed deer are eaten mostly regularly. In some areas of Poland and Austria, red deer are the preferred prey and, in Switzerland, chamois may be locally favored. They will also feed on carrion when it is available. Adult lynx require 1.1 to 2 kilograms (2.4 to 4.4 lb) of meat per day, and may take several days to fully consume some of their larger prey.
The main method of hunting is stalking, sneaking and jumping on prey, although they are also ambush predators when conditions are suitable. In winter certain snow conditions make this harder and the animal may be forced to switch to larger prey. Eurasian lynx hunt using both vision and hearing, and often climb onto high rocks or fallen trees to scan the surrounding area. A very powerful predator, these lynxes have successfully killed adult deer weighing to at least 150 kg (330 lb).
The Eurasian lynx inhabits rugged forested country providing plenty of hideouts and stalking opportunities. Depending on the locality, this may include forest-steppe, boreal forest, and montane forest. In the more mountainous parts of their range, Eurasian lynx will descend into the lowlands in winter, following their prey, and avoiding the deepest snows. They tend to be less common where wolves are abundant, and wolves have been reported to attack and even eat lynx. In Russian forests, the most important predators of the Eurasian lynx are the gray wolf and the wolverine. Wolves kill and eat lynxes that fail to escape into trees. Lynx populations decrease when wolves appear in a region and are likely to take smaller prey where wolves are active. Wolverines are perhaps the most dogged of competitors for kills, often stealing lynx kills. Lynxes tend to actively avoid encounters with wolverines, but may sometimes fight them if defending kittens. Sometimes, Siberian tigers have also preyed on lynxes, as evidenced by examination of tiger stomach contents. Lynx compete for food with the predators described above, and also with the red fox, eagle owls, golden eagles, wild boar (which scavenge from lynx kills), and in the southern part of its range, the snow leopard and leopard as well.
Although they may hunt during the day when food is scarce, the Eurasian lynx is mainly nocturnal or crepuscular, and spends the day sleeping in dense thickets or other places of concealment. It lives solitarily as an adult.
The hunting area of Eurasian lynx can be anything from 20 to 450 km2 (8 to 174 sq mi), depending on the local availability of prey. Males tend to hunt over much larger areas than females, which tend to occupy exclusive, rather than overlapping, hunting ranges. The Eurasian lynx can travel up to 20 km (12 mi) during one night, although about half this distance is more typical. They patrol regularly throughout all parts of their hunting range, using scent marks to indicate their presence to other individuals. As with other cats, the scent marks may consist of faeces, urine, or scrape marks, with the former often being left in prominent locations along the boundary of the hunting territory.
The mating season for Eurasian lynx lasts from January to April. The female typically comes into oestrus only once during this period, lasting from four to seven days, but if the first litter is lost, a second period of oestrus is common. Unlike the closely related Canada lynx, the Eurasian species does not appear to be able to control its reproductive behaviour based on prey availability. This may be because, feeding on a larger range of prey than the Canada lynx, rarity of suitable prey is a less common occurrence.
Pregnant females construct dens in secluded locations, often protected by overhanging branches or tree roots. The den may be lined with feathers, deer hair, and dry grass to provide bedding for the young. Gestation lasts from 67 to 74 days, and results in the birth of from one to four kittens. At birth, Eurasian lynx kittens weigh 240 to 430 grams (8.5 to 15.2 oz) and are blind and helpless. They initially have plain, greyish-brown fur, attaining the full adult colouration around eleven weeks of age. The eyes open after ten to twelve days. The kittens begin to take solid food at six to seven weeks, when they begin to leave the den, but are not fully weaned for five or six months.
The den is abandoned two to three months after the kittens are born, but the young typically remain with their mother until they are around ten months of age (the start of the next breeding season). Eurasian lynx reach sexual maturity at two or three years, and have lived for twenty one years in captivity.
Status and range
- Central Asia: The Eurasian lynx is native to the Chinese provinces of Sinkiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Shaanxi, as well as to northern slopes of Iran's Alborz Mountains, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
- Nepal: Most of northern areas of country.
- Russia: More than 90% of all Eurasian Lynx live in the forests of Siberia. They are distributed from the western borders of Russia to the Pacific island of Sakhalin.
- Turkey: Although exact numbers are not known, the Eurasian Lynx are found in most of Turkey's forests but are thought to have been in decline. Various government bodies are responsible for wildlife in Turkey and before 1990, hunting of Lynx was uncontrolled. Since then hunting has been restricted and there are 83 game conservation and breeding areas where hunting is prohibited. This has had a positive effect on their conservation in Turkey. Research carried out in Kars have discovered a new breeding population in Sarıkamış. However, threats from legal and illegal logging as well as illegal poaching exists.
Once the Eurasian lynx was quite common in all of Europe. By the middle of the 19th century, it had become extirpated in most countries of Central and Western Europe. Recently, there have been successful attempts to reintroduce this lynx to forests.
Status of the Eurasian lynx in various European countries and regions:
- Carpathian Mountains: About 2,800 lynx live in this mountain range in the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. It is the largest contiguous Eurasian Lynx population west of the Russian border.
- Romania: over 2000 lynx live in Romania, including most of the Carpathian population. However, some experts consider these official population numbers to be overestimated. Limited hunting is permitted but the population is stable.
- Balkan peninsula: The Balkan lynx subspecies is found in Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and possibly Greece.[need quotation to verify] They can be found in remote mountainous regions of the Balkans, with the largest numbers in remote hills of western Macedonia, eastern Albania and northern Albania. The Balkan Lynx is considered a national symbol of Macedonia, and it is depicted on the reverse of the Macedonian 5 denars coin, issued in 1993. The name of Lynkestis, a Macedonian tribe, is translated as "Land of the Lynx". It has been on the brink of extinction for nearly a century. Numbers are estimated to be around one hundred, and the decline is due to illegal poaching. The animal was declared extinct in Bulgaria in 1985, but sightings continued well into the 1990s. In 2006 an audio recording of a lynx mating call was made in the Strandzha mountain range in the southeast. Two years later an ear-marked individual was accidentally shot near Belogradchik in the northwest, and a few months later a mounted trap camera caught a glimpse of another individual. Further camera sightings followed in Osogovo as well as Strandzha, confirming that the animal has returned to the country. A thorough examination on the subject is yet to be made available.Template:Zlatanova & al. 2009
- Britain: It was thought that the lynx had died out in Britain either about 10,000 years ago, after the ice had retreated, or about 4,000 years ago, during a cooler and wetter climate change. However, carbon dating of lynx skulls taken from the National Museums of Scotland and the Craven caves in North Yorkshire show they lived in Britain between 80 and 425 AD. A native name for the animal, lox, existed in Old English. There is interest in reintroducing the lynx to Britain in order to return some natural state of control to the problem of over-population of deer, which currently have no natural predators left in Britain.
- Czech Republic: In Bohemia, the lynx was exterminated in the 19th century (1830–1890) and in Moravia probably at the turn of the 20th century. After 1945, migration from Slovakia created a small and unstable population in Moravia. In the 1980s, almost 20 specimens were imported from Slovakia and reintroduced in the Šumava area. In early 2006, the population of lynx in the Czech Republic was estimated at 65–105 individuals. Hunting is prohibited, but the lynx is often threatened by poachers.
- Dinaric Alps and Julian Alps: Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are home to between 130 and 200 lynx. The Eurasian lynx had been considered extinct in these countries since the beginning of the 20th century. However, a successful reintroduction project was carried out in Slovenia in 1973, when three female and three male lynx from Slovakia were released in the Kočevski forest. Today, lynx can be found in the Slovenian Alps and in the Croatian regions of Gorski kotar and Velebit, spanning the Dinaric Alps and over the Dinara Mountain into western Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park is home to several pairs of lynx. In the three countries, the Eurasian lynx is listed as an endangered species and protected by law. Realistic population estimates are 40 lynx in Slovenia, 40–60 in Croatia, and more than 50 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Croatian massif Risnjak in Risnjak National Park probably got its name from the Croatian word for lynx, ris.
- Estonia: There are 900 individuals in Estonia according to a 2001 estimate. Although 180 lynx were legally hunted in Estonia in 2010, the country still has the highest known density of the species in Europe.
- Fennoscandia: Fennoscandian lynx were close to extinction in the 1930s–1950s but increased again thanks to protection. In the meantime protective hunting for lynx has been legalized again. The numbers are still on a slow increase. Lynx is the only non-domestic feline in Scandinavia.
- Finland: about 2200–2300 individuals, according to a 2009 estimate. Lynx population in Finland have been increasing every year since 1991, and is estimated to be nowadays larger than ever before. Limited hunting is permitted. In 2009 the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry gave a permit for hunting of 340 lynx individuals.
- Norway: The Eurasian Lynx is found in stable populations throughout Norway except for the southwestern counties, where they are only found sporadically. The national goal of 65 lynx births was reached in 2007, with 69 to 74 registered lynx born. The population was estimated at 409–439 specimens.
- Sweden: Sweden had an estimated population of about 1400 lynx in 2006 and 1250 in 2011. The hunt is controlled by government agencies. Hunters who wish to hunt for lynx must register for the so-called "protective hunt," which takes place in March. The hunt may only take place if the population has an annual increase of 300 animals 300 birth situations. The government has allowed the requirement to fall to an increase of 250 lynx under "certain circumstances" and still permit the hunt. Even though the goal is rarely met, the hunt is always approved. This has led to a steady decrease of the number of lynx in Sweden and protests from larger non-governmental organisations such as The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. Only a few animals are allowed to be shot in each region, depending on the size of the local lynx population and/or how the reindeer herding is affected. Every shot animal and shooting location is controlled by the County Administration, and the carcass is sent away for analysis to the National Veterinary Institute. The hunter may keep the skin, if a microchip or transponder is attached by the local police authority. The skull of the shot animal can be sent back to the hunter for a fee of about €70. No more than 75 animals in 20 regions were permitted to be shot in 2007, an increase from 51 in 2006 (always about 5% of the population). In 2006 there were 41 lynx killed outside of hunting, 31 of which were killed in traffic accidents.
- France: The lynx was exterminated by about the year 1900, but was later reintroduced to the Vosges and Pyrenees and has moved to the French Alps from Switzerland.
- Germany: The Eurasian Lynx was exterminated in Germany in 1850. It was reintroduced to the Bavarian Forest and the Harz in the 1990s; other areas were populated by lynx immigrating from neighboring France and the Czech Republic. In 2002 the first birth of wild lynx on German territory was announced, following a litter from a pair of lynx in the Harz National Park. Small populations exist also in Saxon Switzerland, Palatinate Forest, and Fichtelgebirge.
- Netherlands: The lynx has been extinct in the Netherlands since the Middle Ages. Although there were some sightings, they probably stem from captive-bred lynx which have escaped or were released to the wild, or may be lynx moving in from Germany, since several of the sightings reported during the 1980s and 1990s were around the Reichswald area.
- Belgium: The lynx was extinct for about 300 years, but started to recolonize the eastern part of the country in the first decade of the 21st century (around Vielsalm and Voeren). These animals are probably individuals from the lynx populations in the Eifel region of Germany or the Vosges region of France, or possibly also illegal introductions by hunters.
- Poland: The Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences has information about "at least 128 lynx", observed in 2006/2007. The report suggests that the number is underestimated.
- Slovakia: The lynx is native to forested areas in Central and East Slovakia. The lynx in Slovakia live mainly in mixed forests at altitudes from 800 to 1000 m. The feline can also be found in many national parks of Slovakia and other protected areas.
- Switzerland: The lynx became extinct here in 1915, but was reintroduced in 1971. Swiss lynx also migrated to Austria, where they had also been exterminated. A higher proportion are killed by human causes than by infectious diseases.
- Italy: The Lynx was considered extinct since the early 20th century but over the past 30 years a partial recolonization of the Alps, from the Swiss and Slovenian populations, is occurring. Claims in 2009 of the existence of a very small population in central Italy proved to be unsubstantiated.
Precise classification of the subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx is still the subject of debate, but based on recent interpretation, the list includes:
- Lynx lynx lynx, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Western Siberia
- Lynx lynx carpathicus, Carpathian Mountains, Central Europe
- Lynx lynx martinoi, Balkans
- Lynx lynx dinniki, Caucasus
- Lynx lynx wardi, Altai Mountains
- Lynx lynx wrangeli, Eastern Siberia
- Lynx lynx isabellinus, Central Asia
- Lynx lynx kozlovi, Central Siberia
- Lynx lynx stroganovi, Amur region
- Lynx lynx sardiniae, Sardinia†
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