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We unwrapped a magical gift in Algonquin Park this Christmas….a Lynx!

 


Numerous biologists and naturalists believe that wild cats, such as the Canadian Lynx or “Ghosts of the North Woods,”  are absent from Algonquin. Historically, Lynx have been found throughout Canada’s boreal forest, which in Ontario typically means north of Algonquin. However, our recent encounter has accompanied similar sightings noted as early as 2017.

 

It’s no secret that Lynx feed on small to medium-sized mammals, but it’s important to note that the health of their population is dependant upon the mating patterns and abundance of snowshoe hares - to which their diet primarily consists. These two species are closely tied as their predator-prey cycle repeats every 10 years - allowing the Lynx to reduce the snowshoe hare population, resulting in increased competition amongst Lynx for food sources until their inevitable decline. This repetitive population cycle has long been studied and determined by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fur trapping records dating back to the 1800’s. 

 

Although the last peak in snowshoe hares was documented in 2007, there wasn’t a single reported sighting of a Lynx in Algonquin Park for more than 100 years according to Algonquin’s The Raven Newsletter in 2018 (Vol. 59, No. 2) - until 2017, when a Lynx was spotted on Opeongo Road, in Madawaska River and later, in Hailstorm Creek. To say we were blessed this holiday season is an understatement!

 

Luckily, Jesse and I always drive with our cameras on and ready - so when the Lynx wandered onto Highway 60, we were ready - sort of. 

 

 

Our meeting happened at 7:52 a.m., just after sunrise. As we turned a sharp corner, initially anticipating a wolf - we edged closer and we were shocked to realize our new friend was in fact - the ever-elusive Lynx. Jesse slowed the car and I shot through our salted windshield as the Lynx attempted to carve a path up an icy rock wall beside the highway. The Lynx slipped during his first assent, running back onto the highway before attempting a second time. By this time, he managed to ledge himself halfway up the wall, and took a breath before scaling up a tree that was growing out of the ice - taking one last look at us, camouflaged by thick brush, before strutting off.

 


The first image above was my first click of the camera. The lighting was poor, our car was moving and the Lynx was on the prowl - but, we’re happy to have captured a flash of this perfect Winter morning! The whole scene lasted less than 60 seconds before the Lynx vanished into the frosted forest.

 

A Christmas to remember. 

 

FYI, please respect that exact wildlife locations will not be shared...safety for the wildlife first.

 

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