Ever watch two Canada lynx prepare for a fight? Now you have

Aron Bishop’s job as an entomology technician for the Maine Forest Service’s Forest Health Division requires that he spends a lot of time deep in the Maine woods.

“We see cool stuff every day,” Bishop says. “I’m always keeping my eyes open.”

On July 10, while working in remote T9, R17 in the northwestern corner of Somerset County, Bishop saw one of the coolest scenes he’d ever witnessed.

“We have a remote camp that we stay at for a week at a time,” Bishop explained. “We were trying to get onto an inventory plot, we came around the corner, and they were standing in the middle of the road.”

“They” were two Canada lynx. And the lynx didn’t seem to be getting along very well. Bishop said he and his supervisor rolled forward a bit farther, parked, turned off the engine, and began filming the scene

While the lynx never get aggravated enough for the fur to start flying, wildlife biologist Jennifer Vashon of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said that the lynx were indeed displeased with each other.

“It appears to be a territorial dispute,” Vashon explained in an email response to my “what the heck is going on?” query.

Among the possibilities I posed to Vashon: Is this part of the mating ritual?

“The mating season occurs in late winter [so that would not be the cause],” she wrote. “I’ve seen similar videos in the past. [It’s] very interesting that they don’t really care much about on-lookers (also a similar pattern in other videos I’ve viewed), but then again, that is more typical behavior of lynx … they are generally not that concerned about people. [It’s] just a really calm animal.”

Bishop said he’s become accustomed to surprises in the outdoors, but this incident was unique.

“That was my first experience with a lynx and I’ve been up there for a long time,” Bishop said. “I’ve been with the department [of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry] since 2001. I had never personally seen a lynx until that week. I’ve seen about everything else, but that was the first lynx we’d seen.”

Bishop said he and his supervisor expected a full-blown battle at any moment as they were watching the cats square off.

“They never did hit each other, but we were waiting for it,” he said. “But the look in their eyes, when they walked that last few yards toward the truck, it was just crazy. They looked pretty angry with each other.”

The DIF&W estimate that more than 1,000 adult Canada lynx live in the state of Maine.


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.