For Becky Smith, of rural Cook, her recent first encounter with a Canada Lynx wasn’t necessarily a surprise. “I had a few tips where it was,” said Smith, recounting her recent …
For Becky Smith, of rural Cook, her recent first encounter with a Canada Lynx wasn’t necessarily a surprise. “I had a few tips where it was,” said Smith, recounting her recent sighting of one of these elusive northern wild cats a few miles south of Cook.
A roadkill deer had proved to be an attractant for the animal and word had spread among area residents that a visit to the spot was a good bet for anyone wanting to see a lynx.
Smith, a photographer who loves cats in general and had long wanted to see a lynx in the wild, had been trying to coax her skeptical husband to drive over to the site. Finally, he agreed. They drove to the rumored location of the roadkill, and there was the lynx, right where others had seen it earlier.
After shooting photos from the car, Smith decided she wanted to get closer. “I got out of the car and walked slowly forward until he was probably 25 feet from me,” she said. “It was protective of the deer carcass, and I was scared. It’s a good thing I have an image stabilizer, because my hands were shaking.”
But fear didn’t keep Smith from her goal of capturing images of the cat. While uncommon and often difficult to spot, lynx aren’t known to be shy around humans, so Smith was able to move slowly around the lynx, while trying to shoot from different angles. “It just watched me the whole time, but never made any indication it was scared,” said Smith.
After about ten minutes, the lynx apparently decided to put a little distance between himself and Smith. “It was just looking at me as I was angling off to one side, then it went up a bank, where it stopped above and watched me.”
Smith isn’t saying publicly where the lynx was being seen, mostly to protect the lynx. She said Facebook rumors have already suggested the lynx was subsequently killed, although other reports say the animal is still very much alive.
“I’ve been curious to drive by and see what I can see,” she said.
The Canada Lynx was once the only wild cat one was likely to see here in the North Country, although a recent influx of bobcat into the area has changed that. Lynx are well-adapted to life in boreal regions, with their thick coats, long legs, and huge feet, which allow them to walk atop deep snow, much like their primary prey— snowshoe hares.
Lynx can be told from bobcats by their tufted ears, very large feet, generally lighter color, and by the “dipped in ink” tip of their short tails. While bobcat also have black on their stubby tails, the black tip is more mottled, with some white or brown mixed in. Bobcat have significantly smaller feet than lynx, which generally puts them at a disadvantage compared to the lynx in areas with deep snow.