Lone lynx likely culprit behind pair of Yellowknife dog attacks, biologist says

On Monday, Shania Tymchatyn saved one of her dogs from a lynx, and Yellowknife kennel owner Trevor Lizotte says one of the big cats attacked his dog team last week.

Kennel owner says lynx attacked his dog team last week

A female Canadian lynx heading for the woods after being released near South Fork, Colo. Cases of lynx attacking pets appear to be on the rise in the North this year. (Jack Smith/Associated Press)

Lynx typically steer clear of people, but it appears one in the Yellowknife area is not so shy.

Two Yellowknife dog owners have reported encounters with the normally reclusive cats in the past week. 

On Monday, Shania Tymchatyn saved one of her dogs from a lynx, and Yellowknife kennel owner Trevor Lizotte says one of the big cats attacked his dog team last week.

"I was just running my dogs and this great thing popped out and I thought it was a joke at first," Lizotte said. "But then I took another look at it. It was a lynx and it grabbed my leader by the neck."

Lizotte said he kicked the lynx and it ran off briefly before making another pass at some dogs that were trailing behind. He said he kicked the lynx again and it finally ran off. 

"I just got there as quick as I can," he said "I didn't want to have another encounter, like it was just really hungry and wanted to eat these dogs, so I just took off and and got out of there."

Lizotte said apart from one minor bite mark, his dogs were unharmed.

N.W.T. isn't only place where lynx are attacking pets

Yellowknife isn't the only place where lynx attacks on pets have been reported. Earlier this month, a lynx attacked a Whitehorse dog in broad daylight. In late January, a woman in Beaver Creek fought off a lynx that attacked her dog.

Yukon wildlife officials have said it's likely lynx there are coming after pets because of a natural crash of the population of the snowshoe hares on which lynx often prey. 

Dean Cluff, a biologist with the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the lynx that attacked Tymchatyn's dog is likely the same one that attacked Lizotte's team. Cluff said the lynx is likely starving, but he doesn't think it's because of a shortage of rabbits.

"We seem to be on the downside now of the lynx cycle," he said. "The peak may have been in 2019 or last year. We're starting to see a decline, and these declines for lynx, they're pretty sharp drops."

Shania Tymchatyn, the owner of Arlo, on the right, pinned down a lynx for about 20 minutes after it attacked her dog in Yellowknife. Arlo escaped the attack without being hurt. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press/Submitted by Shania Tymchatyn)

Cluff recommends dog walkers carry a hockey stick or an axe handle to fend off any lynx that try to turn their pets into a meal. He urged anyone who encounters a lynx to call conservation officers as soon as they see the animal, not after, although he acknowledged that may not be possible if a lynx is trying to eat your dog.

"Obviously, if you're trying to rescue your dog from the lynx, you can't phone right away," Cluff said. "But definitely phone as soon as you can so that the officer can get there and help."

Lizotte, the kennel owner, said he's had a few close calls with wolves while running his dogs, but has never encountered a lynx before. He said after he posted about the incident online he heard from some people who were upset he kicked the lynx.

"Some of them didn't like it, but that's the way it goes," he said. "It's either going to hurt my dog or I'm going to have to kick the lynx off." 

Based on interviews by Lawrence Nayally


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