First live lynx captured in Michigan's Thumb region

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HARBOR BEACH (WJRT) (3/19/2019) -- A rare wild feline has been captured in the Thumb.

A farmer spotted the lynx last weekend feeding on some geese in the Thumb area. It is the first lynx to be captured in the Lower Peninsula in more than 100 years.

The lynx was captured in Harbor Beach on Sunday. From there, our Lansing sister station WILX, reports the Michigan Department of Natural Resources transported it to the Howell Nature Center.

Staff members at the nature center were both excited and shocked to see it.

"My first reaction was, it's got to be a bobcat. But it's the DNR and it did turn out to be a genuine, confirmed lynx," said Howell Nature Center Director of Wildlife & Education Dana DeBenham.

DNR Endangered Species Coordinator Dan Kennedy told WILX that wildlife officials initially were concerned about the lynx displaying odd behavior.

"The farmer could come up within 15 to 20 feet from it, that it was staying right in his backyard. In our opinion, it wasn't behaving normally," he said.

The DNR and the nature center said they aren't sure if the lynx was wild or an illegal pet, but capturing it was the best way to find out what to do with it.

"If it was held in captivity, then we'll likely try to keep it in captivity, and if it was wild, then we will release it," Kennedy said.

DeBenham said experts are trying to determine whether the lynx was declawed and is accustomed to life in the wild.

"If they determine it to be healthy, it's going right back out there," she said.

According to the nature center, the lynx is doing great and is calm. Both agencies are letting it relax after a stressful past few days.

The nature center says additional resources are needed for a physical and behavioral assessment, so the lynx will be transferred to the Detroit Zoological Society later this week.

The DNR says the last time there was a confirmed lynx in the Lower Peninsula was in 1917 in Oscoda County. The last time a verified lynx was confirmed in the Upper Peninsula was in 2010.