Sunday, March 14, 2010

Canada: Lynx killed in downtown Yellowknife

Lynx killed downtown

Andrew Livingstone
Northern News Services
Published Friday, March 12, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A lynx that called Yellowknife home and had gathered a growing fan base on the Internet might be the animal that died Tuesday after it was hit by a car on Franklin Avenue.

The animal was reported to be injured after being struck by a vehicle near Aven Manor on the morning of March 9. Wildlife officers with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were called out to retrieve it.

Judy McLinton, a spokesperson for the department, said the lynx had to be put down.

"It was injured so it was destroyed," said McLinton.

According ENR's website, lynx are medium-sized animals, with the adults weighing an average of 10 kg for males and 8.5 kg for females. They appear somewhat larger than they actually are because of their long legs and thick fur.

Some distinctive features of lynx are ear tufts, a ruff of fur around the face, a short black-tipped tail, and snowshoe-like paws. Their fur is usually a grey and brown mixture with paler colours on the belly, legs, and feet. In late spring, their colours darken to a reddish brown.

Rajiv Rawat, 35, managed to take some pictures of a lynx on March 6 in the Forrest Drive area. He said he isn't the first person to see the animal. His picture of the animal sparked a bit of a fan club on Facebook.

"Random people we have encountered in the neighbourhood have been excitedly talking about it for the last few days," said Rawat via e-mail. "Before that, we saw some over-sized paw prints in the backyard so we knew he had been hanging out for some time.

"I think folks are amazed by such a clear glimpse of a rare and beautiful animal in town and the fact that he was just casually crossing the street."

He added they call the cat "Big Cousin" because he has two cats at home.

"One friend even exclaimed (on Facebook) 'good LORD man! did you move up north or back in time?'"City councillor Mark Heyck had an encounter with a lynx on Feb. 14 while leaving an event at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. He said the animal passed by him and his family twice in a matter of moments.

"I was putting my kids into the car and glanced up for a second and it was about 20 feet away, trotting slowly through the parking lot," he said.

"We got in the vehicle and started to drive away and as we were leaving the parking lot it trotted in front of the car toward the causeway heading toward downtown."

After seeing the lynx, Heyck went back to the museum the next day and looked at the stuffed lynx on display. He said the one he saw in the parking lot was much larger and seemed healthier.

"I've got a husky that's about 80 pounds and it looked like it could've been close to that size," he said.

Dean Cluff, a biologist with Environment and Natural Resources, said the lynx killed on Franklin Avenue weighed approximately 10 kg, the average size for a full grown male.

He said he's heard of a family of lynx living in the Frame Lake area.

"It could have been one of them," said Cluff.

"We don't hear too much about them. They are so shy and secretive."

Since his encounter, Heyck said he's heard other people talking about it, and said he's heard of numerous sightings out at the Yellowknife Ski Club, and at the Tommy Forrest ballpark.

Heyck said it was quite an experience to see one so up-close and personal, and was saddened to hear the lynx he saw might be no more.

"I've never, in all my time here, seen a lynx," he said. "It certainly didn't seem skittish.

"It's certainly too bad. I guess it's one of the dangers of an animal becoming too comfortable in an urban setting."

http://nnsl.com/northern-news-services/stories/papers/mar12_10cat.html

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

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