Canadian Study Documents the Ability of Large Carnivores to Cross the St. Lawrence River


A recent study done by Canadian researchers documented the ability of Canada lynx to cross the St. Lawrence River from north to south and vice versa. Genetic analyses of 558 lynx pelts from Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec north and south of the St. Lawrence River , and New Brunswick found three genetic clusters of lynx.  They are located in New Brunswick and Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River (Maine is part of this cluster), Labrador and Quebec north of the St. Lawrence River, and Newfoundland.  Despite the genetic clustering and relatively little genetic mixing between the three clusters, the analyses documented that at least nineteen adult lynx had moved from one cluster to another by crossing the St. Lawrence River.

According to the study, a shipping channel is maintained in the river between Quebec City and Montreal each winter.  East of Quebec City, during the years 2004-2011 (the entire time period reviewed by the researchers), an ice bridge formed across the entire river for weeks each winter.  This bridge enabled lynx, and presumably wolves, to cross the St. Lawrence River from wolf range that borders the river south to Quebec’s Eastern Townships, New Brunswick and New England.

The study did not focus on the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Ontario, however, it did note that fishers from New York were documented to have expanded their range from New York to Ontario by crossing the river.  If fisher and lynx can cross the St. Lawrence River, then wolves can as well.

It’s time to put an end to the false claims that the St. Lawrence River blocks the dispersal of wolves from Canada into the U.S.   Two human caused problems are impeding wolf recovery in the northeast U.S.   They are: (1) the legal killing of wolves by humans in Canada; and, (2) the illegal killing of wolves by humans in the U.S.   We can’t do anything about the river but we can do something about people.

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