Alaskan wildlife includes the lynx. This is the only wild cat that is native to Alaska.
What They Look Like:
They are similar to the bobcat, but have several distinct features. Their large furry paws act like snowshoes so they can travel easily in the winter. They have long legs, a short tail with a black tip, and long tufts of fur at the end of each ear.
A rather small cat, they weigh from about 18 to 30 or 40 pounds when fully grown. Their babies are similar to domestic kittens when first born and generally are buff colored with long streaks on their backs.
Lynx Resting on a Warm Summer Day
Where They Live:
The lynx, also called "link" by some local people, inhabits the forested areas of Alaska from mountainsides to valleys. They do particularly well in areas that are burned over from forest fires and now have new growth.
What They Like to Eat:
The newly growing brush in burned over areas makes an ideal place for the snowshoe hare to live, which is a favorite food item of lynx. When hares are scarce, lynx dine on other Alaskan wildlife, both large and small. They eat squirrels, porcupine, ptarmigan, grouse, caribou and sheep, to name a few.
How To Find Them:
Lynx are generally shy, and beings cats, are rather silent while moving about. But if you are in their territory, you can often see them during our long summer days. If hares are abundant in an area, you might spot some lynx, too.
Since their young are born in May or June, you may also find them near rock ledges or fallen spruce trees, where they often make their dens.
My Alaskan wildlife story of a Lynx:
When I was 11 years old we lived in a 4 room log cabin made by Alaskan Natives. It was located on the Old Edgerton Highway, just south of Kenney Lake, in the Copper River Valley.
The trees had been cleared around the cabin to a distance of about 50 feet or so. And the surrounding wilderness was very thick black spruce, grown after a burn-over of the area from some years earlier.
When the snows became deep in winter, we would see hundreds of snowshoe hare tracks in the clearing around the cabin in the morning. That year was one of their most abundant growth cycles, according to Dad, and would probably die out the following year.
One cold winter evening when a fresh layer of snow had fallen, we decided to light just a few candles rather than using the brightly burning Coleman lantern. That way we'd be able to see the hares (or rabbits as we called them) in the dusk, as they came out of the woods and circled our cabin.
My sister wanted to get a good look, so she went outside and climbed up on the roof over the cabin door. I stayed inside and watched from a window. We soon saw what we had expected. Hares started coming out of the dark wooded areas and passing through the snow-covered clearing.
Soon after they showed up, however, an unexpected guest arrived. When a lynx stepped out of the dark woods and headed towards our cabin, my sister let out a squeal and jumped off the roof without thinking a second about it. She came through that door as fast as she could make it - and never tried watching from outside again!
That was the only time I've seen a lynx but they were probably around, we just weren't observing them.
A Canadian lynx with similar characteristics to Alaskan lynx
Though the lynx is the only native cat species in Alaskan wildlife, there are plenty of other beautiful, fur bearing animals that you might see while you're here...
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