Lynx surprises skiers This Dec. 15, 2016 photo provided by Dontje Hildebrand shows two lynx walking along a highway in Molas Pass outside of Silverton in southwestern Colorado. (Dontje Hildebrand via AP)
Lynx surprises skiers
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Some elusive and charismatic lynx have been parading past awestruck Colorado residents and visitors this winter. The animals have excited social media and given biologists reason to smile.
 
One of the rare, fluffy-looking cats strolled nonchalantly across the Purgatory resort in southwestern Colorado recently. It threaded its way through a crowd of skiers and snowboarders who swerved around the animal and stopped to take videos.
 
Two weeks earlier, a pair of lynx loped along a mountain highway a few feet from Dontje Hildebrand's car.
 
"My heart just about busted out of my chest when I realized what I was seeing," said Hildebrand, who was driving over Molas Pass, about 15 miles north of the Purgatory resort. There, he came upon a female lynx and her kitten.
 
Between 50 and 250 lynx live in the wild in Colorado, mostly in the southwestern corner of the state, biologists say. That's down from previous estimates of 200 to 300. But officials cite better calculations, not a population decline.
 
They are protected under the Endangered Species Act in the contiguous 48 states.
 
Lynx are native to Colorado. They virtually disappeared from the state by the 1970s because of hunting, poisoning and development. The state brought them back starting in 1999, transplanting lynx from Canada and Alaska.
 
The medium-size cats have tufted ears, short tails and broad paws that work like snowshoes. Their paws let them walk across powdery snow. They can grow to nearly 3 feet long and 30 pounds.
 
Wildlife officials don't know exactly how many live in Colorado because they are so hard to find, said Joe Lewandowski. He is a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
 
A few people report seeing them every year, but those sightings don't help with the science of lynx reintroduction because they are anecdotal, Lewandowski said.
 
"But it's encouraging," he said.
 
The state documents where the animals live with a survey, using automated cameras. They are mounted in remote lynx country.
 
The sightings indicate the cats are getting comfortable in the high-altitude forests of southwestern Colorado. It is prime lynx habitat.
 
The lynx appearance at Purgatory on Dec. 28 was unusual because so many people saw it, Lewandowski said.
 
Lynx generally are not a threat to people, he said. They are docile. They eat mostly snowshoe hares. And they likely would not take on anything as large as a human. But they also are unpredictable. People should never approach them or feed them, he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did the lynx seem relaxed?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (25)
  • ethanc1-bur
    1/11/2017 - 12:54 p.m.

    Because they are not animals that would take on people to fight or they will if you mess with them. They eat snowshoe Hares, not people. If I saw one I would not want to get close to it just in case it becomes mad.

  • annakatew-bur
    1/11/2017 - 01:01 p.m.

    I don't know exactly why they seemed relaxed, but I do know that a reason is that lynx's don't normally attack humans so they didn't see humans as a threat. I wish I could've been there to see the lynx's because i love animals.

  • carmenh-orv
    1/13/2017 - 11:12 a.m.

    The lynx seemed relaxed because they usually don't attack people.

  • katherineg-lin
    1/13/2017 - 02:42 p.m.

    I think the lynx was relaxed because he/she was in his/her natural habitat, and the lynx is a big cat, so that might help with his/her confidence.

  • eharlan-dav
    1/17/2017 - 06:36 p.m.

    In response to "Lynx surprises skiers" I agree that lynx's shouldn't be feared. One reason I agree is that they are friendly and would only try to eat snowshoe hares usually. In the article it says that "One of the rare, fluffy-looking cats strolled nonchalantly across the Purgatory resort in southwestern Colorado recently. It threaded its way through a crowd of skiers and snowboarders who swerved around the animal and stopped to take videos". Another reason is that it helps if people film them in the natural habitat and send the video to scientists. Even though it is not good to mess with wild animals it still helps scientist learn more about them.

  • manfredod1-sch
    1/19/2017 - 04:08 p.m.

    I think this article is important because lynx is an endangered "That's down from previous estimates of 200 to 300."

  • bkyle-dav
    1/19/2017 - 05:49 p.m.

    In response to "Lynx surprises skiers," I agree that it is pretty cool to see a Lynx in person. One reason I agree is that
    they live in Colorado and they are pretty rare to find because there population is decreasing from hunting and poisoning. Another reason is that a Lynx is my 2nd favorite animal that looks really cool and it has really cool features on its body. It says in the article,"The medium-size cats have tufted ears, short tails and broad paws that work like snowshoes. Their paws let them walk across powdery snow. They can grow to nearly 3 feet long and 30 pounds". A third reason is in the article it says that they are starting to get used to humans being around them and they are just walking around pretending were not here which I think is pretty cool, so we can see them more. Even though Lynx's look really cool and they would never take on something as big as a human, it is still not a good idea to go up to them and feed them or pet them because they are always unpredictable.

  • cjoseph-dav
    1/19/2017 - 07:01 p.m.

    In response to " this article," I agree/disagree that the lynx was relaxed because it was in its natural habitat. One reason I agree/disagree is that because between 50 and 250 lynx live in Southwestern Colorado in the wild. Another reason is that the lynx were native in Colorado and in 1970 they disappeared because of hunting, poisoning, and development. It says in the article that they brought them back in 1999 transporting them from Canada and Alaska. A third reason is that the lynx appearance on December 28 was so unusual because so many people saw it. Even though I have never seen this awesome looking animal, I think it was a pretty cool article to read and write.
    .

  • olivial-orv
    1/19/2017 - 07:14 p.m.

    Wow! It must've been really cool to see such a majestic creature like a Lynx. I think that the Lynx was relaxed because no one is legally allowed to harm them, and they might've started to notice that. I mean, if people were chasing you around all the time, and then suddenly they stopped, you would notice. But after a while, you would get used to it. I'm guessing that this is what happened to this Lynx.

  • larno-wim
    1/20/2017 - 11:46 a.m.

    Lynx seem relaxed in front of skiers and snow boarders because Colorado is their native home. Humans to them are not threats to them and the lynx are not treats to humans.
    Lynx are endangered species because people hunt, poisoning and development.

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