Northern Wilds Magazine
Along the Shore

Backyard Lynx


Photo by Tracy Benson
Photo by Tracy Benson

Buck Benson, who lives a few miles east of Grand Marais, had an unusual visitor last week. While home for lunch, he noticed a lynx sitting just outside his basement door. We was able to watch and photograph the animal at close range during the afternoon.

The lynx took up a spot beneath Benson’s deck, where he feeds the birds. Seeds scattered by the birds subsequently attract mice—and the northwoods mouser. Benson twice saw the cat pounce in the snow and capture mice.

“He was no more than 10 feet away from me through the basement window,” he says.

The lynx also tried to capture birds. Sitting so still it appeared to be napping, the cat moved no more than its eyebrows as it watched the activities of the birds. Its attempt to catch one was unsuccessful.

Benson happens to have a mounted lynx in his home, so he could compare it with the animal outside his door. He was especially struck by the huge size of its furry paws. Like their prey, snowshoe hares, lynx have large paws that allow them to walk on top of the snow without sinking into it.

Buck’s sister, Tracy, came over o watch the lynx and take pictures, too. At one point, the animal stretched and then walked off, only to return. In order to get a better picture, she opened the basement door and made a clicking sound so the animal would look at her. The lynx made a similar clicking sound in response. Both she and Buck noted the animal was aware of their presence, but seemed unconcerned. Apparently, a lack of fear toward humans is a lynx trait.

Although it hung around Benson’s place all afternoon, the lynx was nowhere to be seen the following morning. A lifetime resident of Cook County, Buck says he’s seen lynx only on two other occasions. Once, while working for the US Forest Service during the 1960s, he and another fellow happened upon a lynx on the edge of a clearing. He animal hissed at the men and then went on its way.

On the other location, Benson was fishing with another man at Northern Light Lake, just across the border in Ontario. They saw an animal swimming in the lake, which turned out to be a lynx. When the animal reached the shore it shook itself like a dog and walked into the woods. While both of these encounters were memorable, he says they were topped by the backyard lynx.

“It was pretty amazing to be able to watch the animal for so long,” he says. “Even though it could see me through the glass, it just stuck around.”

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