I have spent years dreaming of seeing and photographing a Canada lynx, but they were an animal that always evaded me. The closest I got to seeing one of these elusive wild cats was identifying fresh tracks alongside the road or in amongst the trees while out hiking or snowshoeing. Canada lynx are incredibly beautiful animals. They have a short, black-tipped tail, long legs, prominent ear tufts and large paws that function as snowshoes in the winter, allowing them to move easily atop the snow. The Canada lynx’s main prey is the snowshoe hare, so often I would head out to explore areas where I knew this prey source was in abundance. One day, while out searching one of these locations, I finally had my dream encounter.
My mom and I were out snowshoeing in a forested wilderness area in the Canadian Rockies. We were enjoying the beautiful day in the mountains and the incredible scenery. The woods were quiet except for the sounds of birds overhead. We moved slowly through the evergreen trees, fresh snow crunching beneath our snowshoes, breathing in the crisp winter air. As we emerged from the dense forest, we came into a large meadow. As I scanned the surroundings, I noticed an animal moving along the far side of the meadow. At first, I thought it was a coyote as they often frequented this area. As we started across the meadow, I was surprised to discover it wasn’t a coyote at all, but a lynx!
After all those years of wanting desperately to see one I was beyond thrilled. Then to my amazement, another smaller animal appeared behind the adult: a kitten. They were quite far away so I thought that would be it – just a sighting from afar and I was quite happy with that. Finally seeing a lynx in the wild was enough. However, the pair soon circled back towards us, moving along the edge of the forest before disappearing into the woods. We then spent over an hour with this female lynx and her kitten as they maneuvered through the woods, weaving in and out of the trees. Eventually they came to rest in a small clearing. Everything was completely quiet and calm as snow softly fell around us. My mom and I made sure to stay a good distance away, nestled into the trees to give them space. I used a telephoto lens to photograph the pair as they napped, cuddled and groomed themselves.
After some time, the mother stood up and slowly ambled away into the trees. Her kitten continued to lay in the snow for another few moments before getting up and following her mother, disappearing from view. I turned to my mom and we both could not stop smiling. It was an incredibly magical experience and one we would never forget.
Canada lynx are listed as threatened in the United States, but the Canadian lynx population appears to be stable. Lynx populations fluctuate with snowshoe hare numbers, as these hares are their main prey. The main threats facing these wild cats, besides decline in hare populations, is trapping and habitat disturbance as a result of timber harvests.
I believe this image shows the incredibly strong bond between mother and young and I hope it causes people to think of their own relationships, and to connect with and feel compassion for these beautiful wild cats.