The contiguous United States population of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis Kerr) is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. However, the historic distribution of lynx in the Northeast is poorly understood. We used museum records, bibliographic records, and interviews to reconstruct the past distribution of lynx in Maine, which is at the current southern limit of the species' distribution in the eastern United States. We found a total of 118 records, representing at least 509 lynx in Maine. Lynx were observed throughout Maine, 1833-1912, with the exception of coastal areas. After 1913, lynx were most common in the forests of western and northern Maine, and absent to rare along the coast, but had not returned to southern Maine by 1999. Thirty-nine kittens representing at least 21 litters were distributed throughout northern and western Maine, 1864-1999. Populations apparently fluctuated, and in some years 200-300 lynx were harvested in Maine. Prior to the 1900s, lynx were much more widely distributed in the Northeast, ranging from Pennsylvania north into Quebec. Because Canada lynx have had a long presence in northern New England, and at times were relatively common, this species merits serious consideration in conservation planning in this region.
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Recent and historical distributions of Canada lynx in Maine and the Northeast