Lynx on the rise, breeding with bobcats in N.B.
The endangered Canada lynx may not be so endangered in New Brunswick anymore. Numbers are rising and the big cats appear to be cross-breeding with bobcats.
The lynx had been considered regionally endangered in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but as New Brunswick has been reviewing its list of species at risk, it has noticed that lynx numbers appear to be increasing.
Wildlife biologist Cade Libby says people have been seeing lynx tracks in the woods.
"In addition to that, though, we do have incidental lynx turned in every year, whether they've been killed by cars or trucks, or through hunting accidents or trapping accidents."
That's providing data for the review of the province's list of species at risk, and biologists are finding a surprise: lynx are mating with bobcats in New Brunswick, creating fertile hybrids.
"It's a pretty good cross between them," Libby said. "They look like a bobcat, but they have really long black tufts on the ends of their ears and a little bit larger feet. For the one female we have caught that has been a hybrid, we looked at the reproductive tract on it, and it did have placental scars."
Cross-breeds in the animal kingdom, such as the mules produced by horse and donkey unions, are typically born sterile.
Libby says he thinks the bobcat and lynx may be overlapping their territorial range in New Brunswick, because of a boom in their main prey, the snowshoe hare.
That intermingling could be what led to the hybrid cat, dubbed by biologists the Bob-o-Lynx.