Nature Conservancy of Canada
Corridors to protect Quebec’s lynx
May 9 wrapped up the Staying Connected Initiative conference, held in the town of Orford in the Estrie region, a cross-border collaboration of 60 American and Canadian organizations, including the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
During the conference, the NCC laid out details of its “ecological corridors” project, part of climate change adaptation. The plan requires cooperation of citizens and municipalities to set up and protect as many natural corridors in southern Quebec as needed for the movement and survival of wild animals, including lynx. A few corridors have been proposed for the lower Outaouais, usually linking feeding to breeding and over-wintering areas, often linking rivers to forested zones.
The lynx requires a large range, 70 square kilometres per individual; this iconic feline must be able to travel great distances, without threats to itself or to people, to survive.
One effect expected of climate change will be a northward shift of wildlife habitats; experts estimate 45 kilometres per decade. To allow this protective migration, routes must remain open and undisturbed from one area to the next.
The lynx is an elusive species, rarely seen but present in most forests, particularly in the southeast of the province. This large cat was almost hunted to extinction before the 1980s, saved by the Canadian government’s 20-year ban on trapping lynx. Scientists report the lynx is now doing relatively well in Quebec, but struggling in the Maritime provinces due to habitat loss. Human activities – roads, farms and cities – can divide zones and isolate species.
Other animals such as moose, wolves and black bears, emblematic species of Canada’s great outdoors, are also affected by these changes.