Effectively managing habitat for threatened populations of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) requires knowledge of habitat conditions that provide for the ecological needs of lynx. We snow-tracked lynx to identify habitat conditions associated with hunting behavior and predation during winters of 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 in the northern Cascade Range in Washington state, USA. We recorded number and success of predation attempts, prey species killed, and trail sinuosity on 149 km of lynx trails. Lynx killed snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus), red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), and cricetids more than expected in Englemann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) forests, where snowshoe hare densities were highest. Lynx killed prey less than expected in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests and forest openings. We used the sinuosity of lynx trails as an index of quality of habitat hunted. Lynx trails that included predation attempts were more sinuous than trail segments without predation attempts. Lynx trails had greater sinuosity in forest stands with high hare densities dominated by Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir than in stands with low hare densities dominated by Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine or in forest openings. We encourage forest managers to maintain or create sufficient understory cover to support high densities of snowshoe hares as foraging habitat for lynx.
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Vol. 72 • No. 7