Lynx surprises skiers
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. They have 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. Many 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. It's 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, although 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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Why did the lynx seem relaxed?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • collino1-smi
    1/11/2017 - 07:36 a.m.

    I think they should take some of them and put some of them in a sanctuary to try to repopulate them.

    • katelynb-jac1
      3/31/2017 - 04:31 p.m.

      collino1-smi, I agree with you very much. But there might be a problem with that. You see, lynxes are very territorial and this might cause some problems. They might try to fight or even kill each other, which then would DOWN SIZE their population making it worse. Sorry for the buzz kill.

  • neaves-bur
    1/11/2017 - 12:52 p.m.

    Answer: The Lynx seemed relaxed because it had not seen any threat from the humans and it was docile towards most living things.
    Personal Statement: The fact that Lynx are not dangerous to humans unless approached, is very calming it just tells me another animal is not too DANGEROUS!!! :)

  • judea-buh
    1/12/2017 - 10:48 a.m.

    I really like lynx's, they are wolves but to me, they seem so much more calmer. I really want to see one one day and hope it was as calm as it was to the skiers.

  • kerstenh-nes
    1/12/2017 - 11:01 a.m.

    Lynx aren't interested in humans, and they are hardly ever found.

  • jaredh-nes
    1/12/2017 - 11:02 a.m.

    maybe they have gotten to the environment around them and maybe to people as well maybe we do not pose a threat to the lynx.

  • cassidyt-nes
    1/12/2017 - 11:04 a.m.

    They are used to being around people, they will not do much harm. Lynx are getting comfortable with higher altitude forest areas, in Colorado.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    1/12/2017 - 01:11 p.m.

    I think these lynx are very cute even though they can rip my face off. It was probably relaxed because it didnt feel threatened and was with her kitten.

  • jacklynt-ste
    1/12/2017 - 01:54 p.m.

    I would be absolutely terrified if i was skiing and I encountered a lynx. I do not know what I would do because I think that if I ran it would just chase me. If I was in the middle of skiing I most definitely not stop to take a picture.

  • chadm-orv
    1/12/2017 - 02:39 p.m.

    The cats are getting comfortable in the high-altitude forests of southwestern Colorado. Because its a prime lynx habitat.

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