Last week, the CBC reported the sighting of two young lynx on the property of Lianne Mantla-Look, a Yellowknife, N.W.T., resident in the Kam Lake neighbourhood. Mantla-Look was home sick when she heard her cat Cheese hissing at the back-deck window. On the other side of the glass, examining the view, was a young lynx, closely followed by a second that remained on the main level. After a brief confrontation with Cheese at the window, the young lynx eventually wandered off.
Although they’re shy animals and a sighting so close to a home is rare, Pat Bumstead, the director of the International Society for Endangered Cats, says their midday appearance isn’t out of place. “They aren’t strictly nocturnal,” she says. “They tend to be active whenever their prey is active.” Good thing Cheese was indoors, as house cats tend to be on the menu. And while this could have been the reason the lynx were drawn to Mantla-Look’s house, Bumstead says it was just as likely a simple case of cat curiosity.
Lynx live primarily in the Boreal Forest and do not hibernate, adapting to the cold winter months with a thick coat of fur. During this time, 75 per cent of their diet is made up of snowshoe hares, closely linking the two animals’ population growth. “The snowshoe hare has an eight to 10-year cycle and the Canada lynx cycle kind of lags behind that a year or two,” Bumstead says. “So, when the snowshoe hare are at their peak in year 10, a couple of years—a year, maybe two—after that is when the lynx will be at their peak.”
While the lynx is endangered in certain States in the U.S., their population in Canada remains stable. “I have seen lynx three times myself strolling down the highway. They’re not close to endangered,” Bumstead says. They can be found regularly in almost every province except the Maritimes.
And while they are an attractive animal—a house cat grown to the size of a small German shepherd—lynx are still wild and caution should be taken if you encounter one. “Always with any wild animal, the most important thing ever is to allow them an escape route because if you corner a lynx it could be like cornering a bear,” Bumstead says. “They’re going to fight back.” If a lynx appears on your property, it’s best to stay indoors with your pets, leaving them an escape route.