Raymond Roy reports spotting an animal that appeared to be one of the two on his property in the middle of town on more than one occasion in the last week.
He first noticed the animal around his house at the corner of Jasper Street and Fourth Avenue about a week ago when he heard a noise coming from his screened-in patio, where he has a small entrance for his cat to come in and out through.
“I was watching TV, I fell asleep in front of the blaring TV, and (the animal) made so much noise that it woke me up,” he explained.
Roy suspects it entered the patio to get his cat, which was hiding in there.
“She went and hid, so he saw the cat food sitting there and I’m thinking he thought why go after a cat when the food is right there,” he said. “So he cleaned all that up.”
Roy notified the town of what he saw. They set up a live trap on his property the next day and baited it with cat food.
A domestic cat was caught in it shortly after, but Roy says he found a larger cat in it earlier this week.
He saw the animal in the trap at about 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 27. He said it appeared to be a lynx by its short tail, tufts of fur on the ears and was about two-and-a-half to three feet in length.
“It was bright enough (outside) that I could make out what it was, and that’s what it looked like,” Roy said.
He stood about two feet away from it and took photos on his cell phone, but the images were not a high enough quality to determine what type of animal it was.
The animal entered the trap and ate the food inside, but Roy said it was able to escape again.
Conservation authorities were alerted of the sighting and searched the property, where they found animal tracks in the snow. However, they were unable to determine what type of tracks they were as the snow had somewhat melted.
Conservation officers have since set up trail cameras at the property to try to identify it.
“It seems to be coming in mainly at night,” said Gary Provencher, Compliance Education and Training Unit co-ordinator with the Ministry of Environment. “Our officers are curious what this animal might be, too. At this point… we can’t confirm whether it’s a lynx or a bobcat, but it sounds like a good-sized cat.”
An adult lynx can measure up to three feet in length, weighing seven to 14 kilograms. Their paws measure about four inches by three-and-a-half inches. They have a four-inch tail that is characterized by its completely black tip, and their ears have black tufts of fur at the tips.
Bobcats are slightly smaller in size and don’t have tufts on their ears. They have a short tail with only black on the top of the tip.
“If we could find some tracks that haven’t melted, we could probably identify it,” Provencher said. “Hopefully we can catch it on these trail cameras.”
While both cats can be found in southwestern Saskatchewan, Provencher said it is more rare to see lynx around.
Roy is concerned a lynx or bobcat could attack his house cat and wants to warn other pet owners to be cautious.
“I want people to be alert so they don’t lose their cat, because I nearly lost mine,” he stated.
According to Provencher, lynx and bobcats typically feed on mice, birds and rabbits, but could wander into an urban setting if they are hungry and in search of food.
“If they’re hungry enough, (food) is what sometimes they’re after – domestic dogs and cats,” he said. “We would advise people not to feed their pets outside on their decks or back areas, because that kind of attracts wild animals not only for the (pet) food, but they’re also putting their pets in danger.”
This is the first reported case of a lynx or bobcat entering town that conservation officers have received.
Provencher said lynx and bobcats are wary of human contact, travelling mostly during the night.
“They usually don’t pose a danger unless they’re cornered or surprised,” he stated. “They might try to defend themselves.”