The primary prey of lynx in most areas is the snowshoe hare, which undergoes an 8–11 year cycle of abundance. This cycle appears to be caused by the interaction of hares with their food and predators. Lynx numbers fluctuate with those of hares and other small game, but lag one or two years behind. When a hare population crashes, lynx numbers soon decline because of the small number of kittens reaching adulthood and the movement of some lynx out of the area. In recent studies of radio-collared lynx in Canada, Minnesota, and Alaska, movements of from 100 to 400 miles or more have been documented as lynx left areas where hares had become scarce. For example, a radio-collared lynx from the southern Yukon traveled over 400 miles to Chalkyitsik, Alaska, on the Yukon Flats.
Although snowshoe hares are an important prey for lynx,
when they are scarce lynx use other food sources more
extensively, and other small prey such as grouse,
ptarmigan, squirrels, and microtine rodents are regularly
taken. Lynx are also known to prey on caribou, Dall sheep,
and foxes, especially during periods of snowshoe hare