Missing lynx no more: Researchers learn of Yukon animals' epic journey

Max and Trump, two lynx collared last winter in Yukon, were discovered hundreds of kilometres away, in Alaska. 'We had kind of lost track of them.'

Two lynx, collared in Yukon, made an unexpected long-distance trip to Alaska

Researchers put GPS collars on more than a dozen lynx in Yukon's Kluane region last winter, to track their movements and learn more about their behaviour. (Adam Sprott)

Alysson Menzies and Emily Studd, two researchers from McGill University, are a bit sad about Trump. He met his demise in a coyote snare.

Trump is a lynx, and one of a few that Menzies and Studd managed to fit with GPS tracking collars last winter in Yukon. The collar allowed the researchers to track the animals' movements and behaviours.

But at a certain point, Trump — and another lynx, Max — fell off the radar. 

"We had kind of lost track of them, in terms of we couldn't hear their collars anymore," said Studd. "We were hoping that they would come back to us."

Menzies and Studd hadn't considered that Trump and Max would travel far, because "normally, the story is [lynx] have a small home range." 

Trump and Max must not have heard that story, because they both had a mind to wander a bit further. About 400 kilometres further, into Alaska.

Emily Studd and Alysson Menzies, in Whitehorse. (Mardy Derby/CBC)

Menzies and Studd just recently discovered their fate, when the animals — and their high-tech collars — were found.

"It was kind of exciting to hear," Studd said.

"Every collar is so valuable and worth a lot of money, and a lot of our time and a lot of our efforts."

Cornered in a chicken coop

Trump may have met an untimely end, but his collar — found by an ex-biologist — will likely yield valuable data.

Max fared better. He was found harassing some livestock, whose owner then cornered him in a chicken coop and called wildlife officials.

Max's collar was removed and sent back to Menzies and Studd. The Alaskans then fitted the animal with a new collar, for researchers there.
Nice kitty. (Emily Studd)

"It was a nice exchange of work and data," Menzies said. 

As to why the two lynx would travel so far, the two researchers are still stumped.

"It was the end, or around, mating season so we're not sure if that anything to do with it, or if they were just, 'see you later, Canada, we're going to a better place,' or a different place — we're not sure," Menzies said.

Or, she said, Trump "had to go back to start his presidency."

With files from Sandi Coleman


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