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, electrifying social media and giving biologists reason to smile.
 
One of the rare, fluffy-looking cats strolled nonchalantly across the Purgatory resort in southwestern Colorado recently, threading 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, when 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, native to Colorado, 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, letting 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, 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 mounted in remote lynx country.
 
The sightings indicate the cats are getting comfortable in the high-altitude forests of southwestern Colorado, which are 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, and 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 (10)
  • johannaw-cel
    1/11/2017 - 11:25 a.m.

    Recently a lynx strolled across the Purgatory resort in southwestern Colorado through a crowd of skiers and snowboarders who then stopped to take videos. Biologists say that only between 50 and 250 lynx live in the wild in Colorado. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act in 48 states and they disappeared from the state by the 1970s because of hunting, poisoning and development. But the state transplanted lynx from Canada and Alaska and brought them back to Colorado. In my opinion it is really important to protect almost endangered species and bring them back. This article shows that this was a success in Colorado and hopefully the population of Lynx continues to increase.

  • kaileew-ste
    1/12/2017 - 01:59 p.m.

    Lynx have been visiting other visitors in Colorado. Luckily, they are generally not a threat to people. I think this would be big surprise to see a lynx but it would also be really cool to witness this.

  • irisp-ste
    1/17/2017 - 09:09 a.m.

    The lynx in Colorado have grown more comfortable in interacting with the citizens that also inhabit the area. Being used to sharing the environment with humans, the animals may not consider the humans to be a threat or dangerous. People there are very lucky to not have to worry as much about the lynx harming them.

  • noahr-ste
    1/17/2017 - 12:33 p.m.

    This is crazy to see Lynx getting so close to people. I don't know how i would feel about seeing a lynx right in front of me.

  • metau-cel
    1/18/2017 - 09:53 a.m.

    I believe that the lynx seemed relaxed because they were just in their natural habitat and hanging out. since Colorado is so full of people and skiers all the time it was most likely a common sight for them. Also, the people didn't try to get close to them they just witnessed a remarkable event since these cats are so rare. Lynx also are not predators of humans so they were not on edge as they would be if they were hunting.

  • monicas-ste
    1/23/2017 - 12:16 p.m.

    That's pretty scary. It would be cool to see one though. They are so cute.

  • zakrym-ste
    1/24/2017 - 12:26 p.m.

    These freaking lynx are scaring people. They pose no great threat to people. It would be cool to watch them interact with people

  • octavias-7-pla
    2/10/2017 - 04:02 p.m.

    The lynx seemed relaxed because humans typically don't bother them. Lynx aren't threats to us, but we're afraid of them and don't go near them. Lynx usually eat snowshoe hairs and would definitely not take on a human larger than them. However, they can be unpredictable so we should still keep a safe distance. I personally really like lynx because they're so cute and fluffy and I love cats.

  • emmah11-har
    2/16/2017 - 05:14 p.m.

    The lynx seem relaxed because they have acclimated to the high altitude forests of southwestern Colorado. Lynx are being spotted more frequently in Colorado despite their “rare” title. One such sighting was at a ski resort, and the other was along the highway. Dan Elliott author of “Lynx surprises skiers” states that “The sightings indicate the cats are getting comfortable in the high-altitude forests of southwestern Colorado, which are prime lynx habitat” (13). This quote proves that the lynx appear to be relaxed because they like higher altitudes, and are being seen at such altitudes.

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