Live lynx captured in Michigan is being evaluated

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources moved a Canada lynx, the first live lynx captured in the state in decades, to the Howell Nature Center's wildlife rehab center, the center said Monday.

The lynx was trapped in Harbor Beach on Sunday and moved to the center's Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic, said Dan Kennedy, the DNR's endangered species coordinator. The trapping was 30 miles from where a cat caught on video was confirmed to be a lynx, Kennedy said.

The DNR was notified by a farmer in Sanilac County that a lynx was feeding on his domesticated geese. The farmer mentioned the lynx was easily approachable and not spooked by his presence, Kennedy said.

"We thought its behavior was a very odd condition, meaning it was possibly a captive animal (someone's pet) or a wild animal with a possible condition," Kennedy said. "We knew we needed to capture it to make sure it was healthy."

They worked with a local trapper to secure the animal, which took a day. Kennedy said they are searching for a wildlife veterinarian to do a behavior and health evaluation of the lynx.

The Canada lynx is classified as a threatened species in Michigan, with only rare sightings in the last 40 years. Kennedy said this was the first sighting in Michigan's lower peninsula since 1917 in Oscoda County.

"In the lower peninsula, verified records are exceptionally rare," Kennedy said. "There have been a couple of lynx sightings confirmed in the entire state. One in 2003 and another in 2010 that we know of."

The DNR is allowing the animal to settle after a stressful few days and hopes the veterinarian will be able to determine its health and possibly where it came from.

"We're going to do a genetic analysis and if it's a captive animal, we may find a zoo to keep it or if it is a wild animal we have to determine where we want to release it back into the wild," Kennedy said.

Last month, the DNR confirmed that a large cat in the back yard of a Lexington family's home was a lynx. Video of the cat shot by a family member was examined by the DNR, who identified the animal as a lynx, according to WXYZ-TV (Channel 7).
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