A rare lynx sighting in Colorado has conservationists excited and Internet gawkers in an excited tizzy.
The picture - uploaded to Reddit before being reproduced throughout the web - was taken over the weekend of Jan. 20 by retired National Park Service employee Steve Chaney, according to Fox Denver.
Catching a glimpse of one lynx is rare enough but capturing two on film, walking along the roadside no less, is almost unheard of because of their miniscule population numbers. A member of the cat family, lynx went extinct in Colorado in 1970.
They were reintroduced into the wild in 1997 and, while that program worked, it took a decade to succeed because of the threat from poachers. Lynx fur is a highly valued commodity on the black market.
Researchers discovered that at least 141 lynx kittens were born between 2003 and 2010, indicated their reproduction rates have surpassed the known deaths of the animal. Often mistaken for a bobcat, an adult lynx generally grows to 20 - 28 inches tall at the shoulder and may weigh as much as 40 lbs. Some Reddit users compared the picture taken in Colorado to their own housecat on steroids.
“We’ve done everything necessary to restore lynx in Colorado,” said Rich Kahn, a retired Department of Wildlife manager who spearheaded the reintroduction, in a 2010 press release. “Now it’s up to the cats to continue to respond as they have for the past 10 years.”
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service reported that the positive outcome of the lynx restoration could lead to similar treatment for other disappearing carnivores, most notably wolverines.
“I live in the foothills of Colorado and I saw one of these guys in my yard last month. Went out to get something from my car and one was just sitting in the shade besides the back wheel,” wrote Redditor WhiteWaterFanatic. “By the time I noticed, I was about 15 feet from it and couldn't help but walk away rather quickly after realizing it wasn't a house cat! It was a lot smaller than these look, so it was probably pretty young, born in the wild after being reintroduced?
“In any case, I had no idea they were reintroducing them back into the wild. This is great. Lynx are just awesome.”
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