We estimated winter diet composition of lynx in Minnesota from 87 scats we collected while trailing lynx, from live-traps that were being used to capture lynx for a radiotelemetry study in northeastern Minnesota, and opportunistically while searching for lynx. We separated scats into a confirmed category (DNA analysis, collected from live traps or along trail of radio-collared lynx) and a probable category (no DNA analysis, tracks likely lynx but not certain or not found, scat dimensions and odor) for analysis. Scats were soaked, washed, and then undigested hair and bones from prey items and vegetation were identified. Undigested prey items were identified to species through comparison to a reference collection. We used the point-frame method for estimates of species composition in scats from hairs. Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) remains were present in 76% of scats. If scats in which only white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) hair was found were eliminated, snowshoe hare remains were found in 97% of scats. We believe most, if not all, deer hair found in lynx scats was from bait used during the radiotelemetry project. Over 80% of the diet of Canada lynx in other parts of the range has been snowshoe hare. We also found evidence of predation or scavenging on other species, including deer, marten, grouse, and other birds. We found one instance of scavenging and possible predation on another lynx. Vegetation was present in trace quantities in many scats and was identified in broad categories of conifer needles, deciduous leaves or grass, and bark, possibly consumed while lynx were eating snowshoe hares they had caught. Scat analysis indicated snowshoe hare are the most important component of Canada lynx diet in northeastern Minnesota in the winter.
Hanson, Kayla; Moen, Ronald.
Diet of Canada Lynx in Minnesota Estimated from Scat Analysis.
University of Minnesota Duluth.
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