When Dylan Schaefer went to work on March 12, the logging supervisor from High Prairie, Alberta, drove into the wooded site just like he normally would. Except this time, he made a lot more noise. Hoping to photograph some wolves that a few other loggers had seen in the area, Schaefer sounded off a predator call that he’d mounted on the top of his truck.
But instead of wolves, the call brought in an oddly curious Canada lynx. The sighting wasn’t rare, Schaefer tells Outdoor Life. The area is crawling with lynx—along with other predators like gray wolves and grizzly bears–and Schaefer says he called in six other lynx that morning using his mobile predator call. What made the one lynx encounter stand out—and eventually go viral on social media—was how the animal responded.
“I think he saw me moving inside the truck,” Schaefer speculates. “Then he probably thought: ‘I hear food noises and see something moving in there. I’ll go see what that is.’ Then he tried to go through the window.”
This aggressive behavior is out of the ordinary, at least in Schaefer’s experience. He says most predators in the area are accustomed to trucks and other big machinery, and that he and his co-workers might spot one lynx a week.
“They’re used to seeing trucks around the logging operations. It’s just when they see people outside the trucks that they’re scared of them,” he explains. “But if you’re sitting in the vehicle, they don’t tend to pay too much attention.”
In 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Lower 48 segment of the Canada lynx population as threatened. Canada’s lynx population is robust, but Schaefer explains that a bad year for snowshoe hares will impact population health. (Research shows that lynx population trends follow cyclical snowshoe hare population trends closely.) Schaefer usually sees plenty hares while hunting, but he says this year was different, since hare populations peak then drop off every decade.
“There’s a lot of cats around and not a lot of food for them. So I think he was just looking for whatever he could find.”
Lynx prefer spruce-fir forests that are typical of Canada, Alaska, and the northern Rockies and Cascades. Most Canada lynx range is concentrated along the British Columbia-Alberta border, while another large chunk covers southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and northern Maine. They also live around the Great Lakes region in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Trapping lynx is legal in Alberta, but hunting is not.