Consider yourself lucky if you spot a bobcat or lynx while you are snowshoeing, skiing or hiking this winter.
The small members of the cat family are very shy. Since they like to hunt at night, you are more likely to see them in the evenings or early mornings — maybe when your flashlight finds their big eyes staring back.
An adult bobcat may weigh about 15 to 35 pounds and measure only 28 to 37 inches long — about twice the size of a house cat. Their fur color can be a reddish brown to a pale orangey-brown or gray. They have dark spots, a short tail and black hairs that come to a point at the tips of their ears.
Bobcats are native to Montana and can be found across the state and much of the United States.
Canada lynx are a rarer cat in these parts, so the chances of seeing them are even less likely. Lynx are similar in size to a bobcat, weighing about 16 to 35 pounds when full grown and measuring about 26-33 inches long.
Lynx are known for having very big paws considering their size. This helps them walk atop the snow as they hunt for rabbits, their main food.
The fur of a lynx is grayish-brown or silver-gray with white and orangey-brown on their throat. Compared to a bobcat, lynx also have a more noticeable crop of pointy black hair rising from the tips of their ears.
Like a bobcat they also have a short tail, but the tip is black all the way around. Their hind legs are longer than their front ones, so they always look like they’re leaning forward a bit.
In Montana, lynx are found only in the western mountains. Few are found in the United States, but their populations remain strong in Canada and Alaska — that’s why they are named Canada lynx.
— Brett French, email@example.com