Voyageurs National Park (VNP) is within the historical distribution of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), a federally threatened species. Sightings of lynx in and near VNP have existed since the 1970s, and three recent sightings have been confirmed with DNA analysis. However, population status and habitat suitability for lynx in VNP are unknown. We used remote cameras and snow-tracking to search for lynx in and near VNP in 2007 and 2008 and did not document lynx presence. We estimated the density of the lynx's primary prey, snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), with hare pellet counts, extrapolated hare density to the landscape level, and compared habitat in VNP to habitat in lynx home ranges in northeastern Minnesota. Hare pellet densities in VNP were about half of hare pellet densities in lynx home ranges in northeastern Minnesota. Even though patches of high-density hare habitat exist in the VNP area, the low density of snowshoe hares at the landscape level would not support resident lynx, and most of the lynx recently documented in and near VNP are, therefore, probably transient animals. A female lynx with a kitten west of VNP in winter of 2010 was the only probable resident lynx confirmed near VNP from 2001 to 2010. Habitat management or natural disturbance processes that increase snowshoe hare densities would be required to support a resident lynx population in VNP.
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Vol. 32 • No. 4