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Anchorage man fears for his young daughter’s safety after lynx gets too close

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 3:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Michael Cipriano was shoveling snow in front of his home on Elmore Road near Huffman Road Tuesday evening when a lynx chasing a snowshoe hare ran right up his driveway. Cipriano called to his two young daughters who were playing nearby so they could see the animal.

“At first I thought it was neat, you don’t see them that close very often,” Cipriano said.

But Cipriano said the lynx stopped dead in its tracks when his 2-year-old made a noise and proceeded to lock eyes with the child.

“He never blinked, he never looked the other direction, he kept his eyes right on the little girl,” he said.

The animal turned to walk closer to the children, then leapt a snowbank that the children were playing behind. Cipriano said the lynx was only a few feet away when he yelled for his 9-year-old daughter to grab her younger sister. He then swung his shovel toward the lynx, making a loud noise when it hit the ground, which eventually sent the animal on its way.

“It didn’t go quickly; it wasn’t scared. It just kind of stopped and slowly went the other direction,” Cipriano said.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Dave Battle said the lynx population remains high in the Anchorage Bowl and reports of lynx are not uncommon.

“We’ve gotten a few sightings, and we’ve had a couple of lynx get into chicken coops,” Battle said. “But we haven’t had any reports until this one of a lynx that someone thought might possibly be aggressive.”

According to Battle, it’s difficult to say what the lynx had in mind. He said it’s possible the animal was just being curious or distracted from its initial prey. This time of year, Battle said, young lynx are leaving their mothers for the first time and are often quite clueless about the world. Rarely are they aggressive towards people.

“Lynx are wild animals so we want people to be cautious of them,” Battle said. “But there has never been a documented case of a lynx attacking a human in North America that I am aware of, so it’s not something we instantly think of as a dangerous animal that we need to go out and take care of.”

Cipriano said he doesn’t know what the lynx intended either.

“I wasn’t going to wait and find out,” he said. “I was going to make sure that it stopped.”

He said he’ll be keeping a close eye out for wildlife, especially near his children, from now on.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include more information on the behavior of lynx this time of year from Fish and Game Biologist Dave Battle.

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