Published: January 2006

Return of the Lynx

Snow Cat

Of Lynx and Men: Scenes from a Homecoming

Cats transplanted from Canada are helping to repopulate the Colorado wilderness.

By Daniel Glick
Photograph by Amy Toensing

Curiosity caught the cat

As was her habit, the three-year-old female lynx padded solo through the deep snow in the Chilkat Pass area near the Yukon–British Columbia border, prowling for prey. She spied a movement and pounced across a willow patch, but the red squirrel scampered up a tree. Then, drawn toward a compelling scent of beaver castor, catnip, glycerin, and valerian oil, mixed with herbal massage oil and infused with a couple drops of Clorox bleach, she floated on her oversize paws through the three-foot-deep snow and stepped lightly over a tree limb to investigate the smell. Dripping saliva, she chewed a branch coated with the fragrant paste.

Suddenly something gripped her leg, jolting her out of her blissful, drooling state. Bolting in fear and confusion, she leaped, twisted, and lunged for cover. Each time she moved, she dragged a cumbersome log, now wired to her left forefoot. She huddled warily, her tufted, pointy ears trained toward any sound that would reveal what awaited her.

Trapper Lance Goodwin found the lynx caught in his snare the next morning, February 27, 2000, lying in a patch of winter sun. He anesthetized her and drove her 160 miles to Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon Territory. There a veterinarian noticed a puncture wound from a stick and amputated part of the third toe on her left forefoot. Other than that she was a healthy, 17-pound lynx, just under three feet long.

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