From historical records we know that Canada lynx were present in New York State in the past; however, we do not know for sure if there were ever self-sustaining resident populations in New York. It is likely that there were always lynx traveling through the state from other areas and that the New York population was sustained by immigration from these other areas.
Occasionally, we still get reports of lynx in the state. Some of the reports turn out to be the similar-looking bobcat; however, over the last few years we have had a few convincing reports of lynx in the state, and it is clear from these that New York still has an occasional lynx passing through. We do not know of any recent instances of lynx breeding in New York.
The lynx is considered extirpated in New York because there is no evidence of any remnant population of resident animals.
Lynx Restoration Study
Between 1989 and 1992, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) conducted an experimental program of lynx releases in northern New York. Over 80 lynx were caught in northwestern Canada and released in the Adirondacks. All of the lynx were radiocollared at the time of release, and the radios provided information of survival and dispersal of these animals.
Some of the released lynx dispersed farther than anyone expected. Lynx from the ESF release showed up in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and other parts of New York. One lynx was found a straight line distance of 485 miles from the release site, 8 months later and 2 pounds heavier than at the time of release.
Home ranges of the released lynx were large, and there is still no firm evidence of lynx reproduction. The researchers did receive reports of lynx with litters but were unable to confirm them.
Lynx are fully protected in New York. The species is classified by New York state law as a small game animal, but regulations do not permit lynx harvest.
The Wildlife Conservation Society of the Bronx Zoo conducted surveys in the High Peaks area of New York in 1998-99 attempting to document the presence of lynx. No evidence of lynx was found.
People who observe lynx or evidence of lynx in New York can help by observing carefully and contacting a DEC office or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org to report their observation. Reports are most helpful if they include details such as specific time, location, and features of the animal or track. Size, coloration, and behavior of the animal are important. For tracks, note the size, shape, length and width between individual footprints, and snow or soil conditions.