SILVER WATER—There is no doubt the large animal that many people around the Island have seen over the past few weeks in the Silver Water area is indeed a lynx, according to a long time conservation officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).
“There is no doubt it is a lynx,” stated Ian Andersonin an interview with the Recorder this past Monday “This is the first documented case of a lynx on Manitoulin Island I’ve heard. It is extremely unusual. We have a resident population of bobcats on Manitoulin Island, but not lynx. They look similar, but there is no question this is a lynx.”
“It is certainly a beautiful animal,” stated Debbie Harper of Gore Bay. She and her husband Tom recently visited the Silver Water area to see if they could catch a glimpse of the lynx, and were able to snap several pictures of it. “When we saw it, at first it was lying down near the bush and you couldn’t really see anything, but then it raised its head and looked at us.”
“When we saw it we were sitting in our vehicle on the side of the road, and it was between 20-30 feet from us. It is a pretty incredible animal,” said Ms. Harper.
A Silver Water resident has seen the animal up close. “I think the lynx may be gone now, at least it hasn’t been around since the last big snowstorm we had. It had been here about five weeks,” said Rick Duffney.
“It was staying right at the front of my gate (at the entrance to his property),” said Mr. Duffney, who was feeding the animal. “He certainly ate well, I gave him chicken legs, tenderloin and a lot more.”
Mr. Duffney said that interestingly enough, “it was pretty touching and emotional for to have this animal around, it showed up just after my friend Turtle had died. I was going through a lot of grief, and it was amazing that this animal showed up at basically that time.”
“I would talk to him (the lynx) every day and feed him,” said Mr. Duffney. “The last day he was here I walked up to him and was about six feet from him. No he didn’t growl or anything. He was pretty tall…he was a big one.”
Mr. Duffney pointed out, “people were around all the time photographing him, it was like a tourist attraction there were so many people around. It was just so amazing to get so close to a wild animal like this.”
Mr. Anderson said it would only be speculation on his part as to where the lynx was from. However, “it probably had to be from the North Shore. There is a lynx population on the North Shore, and probably this guy came across the ice.”
“Generally speaking, lynx are not a risk to people,” continued Mr. Anderson. “They are more likely to attack pets than people.”
Mr. Anderson said that the lynx diet is made up almost solely of snowshoe rabbits. “I don’t know what the population of snowshoe rabbits is on the North Shore, but it seems to be increasing on Manitoulin Island. I imagine this lynx had run out of a food source on the North Shore and ventured on to Manitoulin.”