It is one of Canada’s stealthiest predators, so spotting a single lynx is rare enough for travelers in the country’s hinterland.
But a driver in the western province of Manitoba recently managed to capture on video an entire family of the wild cats as they crossed the road.
Shaun Kirchmann was travelling along Highway 6 from Grand Rapids to Winnipeg, when a silhouette close to the treeline caught his eye.
The Manitoba Hydro employee pulled over to the side of the road, hopeful the shape he had spotted would move closer into view. Moose and deer are common sights along much of the country’s highway systems, and wolves and coyotes can occasionally be seen too.
But Kirchmann was shocked as a mother lynx and her five kittens emerged from the trees, cautiously padding through the snow towards the highway.
“It was one, two, three … I just kept seeing heads poke out of the bushes and I was just stunned. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a family of lynx.’ But I’d never heard of this many lynx being together,” Kirchmann told CBC News.
The wild cats, known for their distinctive black-tipped ears, spend much of their life hidden in thick forest, and are rarely seen in groups, making Kirchmann’s sighting all the more special.
Manitoba Hydro shared Kirchmann’s video on Facebook, racking up more than 5,600 views.
“Caution: cat crossing. Our employee Shaun Kirchmann filmed this lynx litter on the highway to Grand Rapids after he saw a bunch of little heads peeking from the trees,” said the company.
Canadian lynx, which are larger than bobcats, have a large range throughout the country. Their diet consists mainly of snowshoe hare, which has white fur in the winter and brown during the spring and summer.
Population numbers remain healthy for the lynx in Canada, but it is considered a threatened species much of the United States, the result of excessive trapping and timber harvest.