An Edmonton man got a rare view of an elusive wildcat in the city during his lunch break Tuesday afternoon.

Mish Rose was on his way back to his shop near 170th Street and 118th Avenue when he noticed a group of semi truck drivers gathered across from his office.

Curled up in a patch of grass was a lynx.

"It kind of was sitting like a cat would," Rose said. 

"It didn't really look that big until it stood up, and it was pretty big. It was as big as a dog, a good-sized dog, like a lab."

The men gathered around were on the phone with animal control and told Rose the lynx had been sitting there for about an hour. They had to get back to work, so Rose took over guard duty until animal control could arrive. He kept about three metres away.

Soon, the lynx stood up and gingerly walked away. Animal control arrived 10 minutes later.

Lynx spotted in Edmonton0:12

"[Animal control] thought it was a cat, so when we told her it was a lynx, she said, 'I don't deal with cats that big.' So she called fish and wildlife," Rose said.

Lynx

It's rare, but not unheard of to see lynx in Edmonton, an expert says. (Supplied/Mish Rose)

Rose went back to work, but said he received a message from fish and wildlife officers later in the day confirming the lynx was captured and released.

Brendan Cox, a spokesperson for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General said when officers first approached the lynx, it didn't need to be tranquilized. It was unusually docile, he added, and may have been dehydrated.

The lynx was taken by fish and wildlife officers to an area outside the city.

"It went right to the river again and had a drink, and it looked to be more alert and faring better," Cox said. "It was a rather unique instance, I think. It was a happy end to the story."

It's not known whether the lynx was male or female.

Rose said he's seen lynx before while on fishing trips in Slave Lake and Red Earth Creek, but never in the city. 

"As soon as you try to stop and take a picture they're gone, they seem pretty shy. But this one sat there for a good hour. It didn't really run away, it just strolled away around the corner up into a self storage place," he said.

"It was pretty interesting, nothing really happens around this part of town. It was kind of interesting to see a little bit of nature, but I'm glad it's OK, that's all that really matters."

'They're very shy animals'

It's rare, but not unheard of to see one of the solitary animals in Edmonton, says University of Alberta biological sciences professor Colleen Cassady St. Clair.

It's likely the cat made its way into the city through the river valley. Lynx generally pose no risk to people, she said.

"They're very shy animals, very elusive. Getting a good look at a lynx in the wild is something really few people have been able to do," she added.

'Getting a good look at a lynx in the wild is something really few people have been able to do.' - Colleen Cassady St. Clair, professor, University of Alberta

Hare is the meal of choice for lynx, but they do hunt other small animals now and then.

Because of this, people living in areas where lynx are spotted might want to keep a closer eye on their pets and keep them on-leash when off their property, Cassady St. Clair said.

If you're lucky enough to spot a lynx, or any other wild carnivore in Edmonton, it's best to appreciate it from a distance, she said.

"Whenever you see a carnivore, its a good idea to give it space, back off, try not to crowd it. But don't run away either, don't cower or turn your back.

"Just look at it, speak in a firm tone, and back away. It's almost certainly far more frightened than you are."