By Megan McKnight with USAG Bavaria Environmental Division
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – For the first time in Bavaria since the 1850s, a female lynx and her three kittens were observed nearly 130 kilometers outside the Bavarian Forest.
During a routine day of forest maintenance in the Steinwald, a forester noticed two young lynx on a rock. A game camera was set up in the area and photo documentation of the new family was collected. Lynx experts have confirmed that Fee, a re-introduced 5-year-old female, now has three kittens living with her approximately 45 minutes north of the Grafenwoehr Training Area. Conservationists are excited as they are the first documented lynx family to live in Bavaria – outside the Bavarian Forest – in recent history.
Historically widespread across Europe, the lynx faced extinction in the 1850s due to habitat loss and human persecution. In Germany, efforts to revive the species began in the 1970s. The first efforts to reintroduce the species occurred in the Bavarian Forest. A second reintroduction occurred in the Czech Bohemian Forest during the 1980s. The monitoring and conservation of these populations has been in effect since the 1990s. Despite the successful local reintroduction, the lynx is still listed as Critically Endangered on the German Red List of Mammals.
Today, there are three lynx populations in Germany: the Bohemian-Bavarian population established in the 70s and 80s, the Harz population established in the 2000s and the newer Vosges-Palatinian population established in 2016. Current lynx estimates, from the 2019/2020 observation year, suggest that there are 130 adults and 58 juveniles across Germany. Of those totals, 51 adults and 20 juveniles were recorded within Bavaria.
Lynx thrive in rugged landscapes that provide hideouts and stalking opportunities. Most common habitats include mountain ranges and forests. As carnivores they hunt small to large mammals such as deer, boar, foxes, rodents and even birds. An adult requires up to 2 kilograms of meat daily, and it may take several days to fully consume prey.
Lynx are territorial, and the size of the territory depends on the quality of habitat and the amount of prey present. Female territories range from 80 to 200 square kilometers, while male territories range between 150 to 440 square kilometers. It is not uncommon for male territories to overlap two to three female territories to enable breeding. But territories of the same sex will usually not overlap.
Lynx are typically solitary and nocturnal. The mating season occurs from February to March, and gestation lasts 70 days. Female lynx birth between one and four kittens. The young will stay with the mother for nine months, before venturing off to establish themselves.
It is not likely that you will encounter a lynx, because they typically avoid humans. If spotted, the lynx will likely remain either seated or withdraw slowly and calmly. In the highly unlikely event that you do encounter a lynx, follow this safety advice from the State of Bavaria Department of Environment LfU:
The safety of the community is our top priority. If you see a lynx please report it to the USAG Bavaria Environmental Division at DSN 475-8222 or CIV 09641-83-8222. If you have a lynx encounter or mistakenly strike one with your vehicle, once safe notify the Military Police front desk or German Polizei and stay clear. Contact the MP front desk at DSN 476-3398 or CIV 09662-83/3398. Contact the German Polizei at 110.