It is an uncommon cat-bites-dog story, and it is occurred twice within the final couple of weeks in Yukon — somebody’s pet canine was attacked by a lynx.
Yukon authorities biologist Tom Jung says he is “fairly shocked.”
“That is not a typical lynx behaviour. I am positive this is not the primary time it is occurred however, you already know, these actually are specialist predators of snowshoe hare. So to assault a canine is fairly uncommon,” Jung stated.
The primary latest incident occurred late final month, when two ladies had been out strolling their canine on a path close to Beaver Creek, Yukon. One of many ladies stated a lynx appeared out of nowhere and “grabbed my canine by his face.” The 2 ladies managed to tug the cat off the canine and the lynx was later shot.
Then final week, a canine proprietor in Whitehorse stated their pet was attacked in the midst of the day by a lynx within the McIntyre subdivision. The pet proprietor stated a conservation officer occurred to witness it, and rescued the injured canine.
Jung says these assaults are stunning, however not terribly puzzling — snowshoe hares are in decline.
“The obvious reply is, [the lynx] are hungry,” he stated.
“When the inhabitants of snowshoe hare declines, [lynx] have to seek out one thing else to eat. And sadly, it looks like some lynx have taken to attacking canine.”
Lynx and snowshoe populations provide a traditional examine in predator-prey dynamics. They usually rise and fall in a multi-year cycle, tied carefully collectively.
As hares turn out to be extra plentiful, lynx thrive, till the hare inhabitants hits a peak and begins to say no. Lynx numbers then additionally dip. It is a couple of nine-to-10 12 months cycle, Jung says.
“On the peak, the numbers may very well be, you already know, averaged out round three, 4 bunnies per hectare. However through the decline, it is extra like one bunny per 10 hectares. So it is fairly a distinction,” Jung stated.
He says snowshoe hares in Yukon at the moment are in concerning the third 12 months of decline.
“So the numbers are actually dropping fairly a bit,” he stated.
Which means lynx will quickly be extra scarce as nicely, earlier than the hare inhabitants begins to rebound within the coming years.
Jung says it is a dynamic that is been well-studied over the many years, however there is a new concern — the inhabitants peaks are usually not what they was once.
“We’re having weaker peaks. So by that I imply that after they do construct up, the numbers do not construct up like they used to within the Seventies or the Eighties,” he stated.
Jung stated local weather change could also be an element, affecting the quantity of meals accessible to snowshoe hares, or there may very well be different stresses on the lynx inhabitants.
“We’re not very positive right now why now we have these weak peaks,” Jung stated.