Watch rare lynx caught in Michigan return to the wild

Posted at 2:52 PM, Apr 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-15 14:52:19-04

A rare lynx that was captured in Michigan's thumb earlier this year was released into the wild last week by the Michigan DNR. According to the DNR, it was brought north after time at the Detroit Zoo and released in central Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula.

"It went perfectly. She didn't dart out of the carrier like some other animals would have, but that's pretty typical lynx behavior," DNR Wildlife Biologist John DePue said.

Photos via Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The DNR first received the report of the lynx on March 16 preying on a farmer's domestic geese. The lynx was described as easily approachable and wasn't scared by the farmer's presence.

The DNR worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and a local trapper to catch the lynx. The Canada lynx are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

"The DNR has the authority to handle federally threatened species through an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," DNR Endangered Species Coordinator Dan Kennedy said in a release.

The female cat is believed to be less than a year old, over 4-feet long and weighed 18 pounds.

Photos via Michigan Department of Natural Resources

According to DNR wildlife biologist Cody Norton, the lynx gained more than a pound eating rabbits and quail at the Detroit Zoo.

“It’s been acting like a normal healthy cat,” Norton said.

DePue and Norton opened the carrier's door to release the cat, and it stepped out cautiously, looking behind at the two biologists before walking away.

Photos via Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Photos via Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A blood sample was taken from the lynx and submitted to the U.S. Forest Service's National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation. It's consistent with DNA from lynx in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and Canada.

Canada lynx are found in boreal spruce-fir forests, and while they aren't usually found in Michigan, they can move through the state.

The location where the lynx was released is a good habitat for it with abundant resources, the DNR said. It includes snowshoe hare and beaver, and it's remote.