SANILAC COUNTY (WJRT) (4/15/2019) - The Canada lynx captured in Huron County last month is getting used to new surroundings in the Upper Peninsula this week.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Detroit Zoological Society released the lynx in Schoolcraft County on Friday into a snowy area forested with pine trees.
“It went perfectly,” said John DePue, a DNR wildlife biologist who supervised the release of the cat. “She didn’t dart out of the carrier like some other animals would have, but that’s pretty typical lynx behavior.”
The lynx was the first captured in the Lower Peninsula in more than a century. Authorities captured the lynx on March 17 a farm near Harbor Beach in Huron County after receiving reports of it preying on geese.
“Canada lynx are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act,” said Dan Kennedy, endangered species coordinator with the DNR. “The DNR has the authority to handle federally threatened species through an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
After being captured, the lynx was held at the Howell Nature Center wildlife rehabilitation facility in Livingston County until she was able to be transferred to the Detroit Zoological Society for a health assessment.
The female cat, believed to be less than a year old, measured just over 4 feet long and weighed 18 pounds. She was treated for a foot wound, parasites and dehydration.
“The lynx was well-cared for while at our facility,” said Randi Meyerson, deputy chief life sciences officer at the Detroit Zoological Society. "We were happy to play a role in restoring her to good health so she could be returned to the wild.”
DNR wildlife biologist Cody Norton said the lynx gained more than a pound from eating rabbits and quail while under the care of Detroit Zoological Society staffers. The cat was transported north about 400 miles before a small group of DNR staffers released her into the wild.
“It’s been acting like a normal healthy cat,” Norton said.
When the lynx was released, she stepped cautiously out of the carrier and looked behind at the two biologists before walking away in the opposite direction.
“A once-in-a-career opportunity in the state of Michigan just took place,” said DNR wildlife technician Don Brown, who helped bring the lynx north.
A blood sample from the lynx had been submitted to the U.S. Forest Service’s National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation in Missoula, Montana for DNA analysis.
“The DNA of this lynx is consistent with DNA from lynx in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and Canada,” said Kristy Pilgrim, laboratory supervisor at the center.
The last lynx seen in Michigan was on Sugar Island near Sault Ste. Marie in 2010.