A Canada lynx was found in the mountains southwest of Salmon this week, exciting Salmon-Challis National Forest wildlife officials, who caught a glimpse of the rare feline for the first time since 1991.
The lynx was first spotted by a recreationist in the area. Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Beth Waterbury said state officials weren't sure at first that it was a lynx—bobcats are more common, and legal to trap—but headed to the scene to investigate, regardless.
What they found was an approximately 20-pound cat with a paw caught in a legally set bobcat foothold trap.
Waterbury said the animal appeared to be uninjured when it was found, and ran away without a visible limp once released.
"There was no blood, no obvious signs of broken toes," she said. "It's just probably going to be sore for a few days."
Fish and Game biologists gathered hair and scat samples from the cat to help determine gender and origin.
"There is a very remote chance that it could a hybrid lynx that someone would keep as a pet that was released into the wild," she said.
Wildlife officials have found and documented bobcat-lynx hybrids in Wisconsin. Waterbury said the genetic tests would make a definitive determination.
Lynx are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Salmon-Challis National Forest spokesman Ken Fuellenbach said that unlike cougars or bears, lynx are not known to be dangerous to humans.
"They are usually quite reclusive," he said. "They are rare even in this area, but where they are, they're hard to spot. I've never heard of any attacks."
Lynx and bobcats are two separate species, though they are closely related.
Beautiful Lynx. I was horrified to hear it was caught in a trap intended for a Bobcat. My goodness why does our wildlife have to suffer so. For what reason does any animal have to be trapped? I have nightmares about stuff like this. My heart truly breaks for our wildlife.