LYNX SIGHTING at the McCoy Farm!
Text and photos by Doug Regentin
Statement from McCoy Farm:
I’ve lived on this property almost 45 years, and I always had chickens, geese and ducks. I’ve seen a lot of predators come through but nothing like this….this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.
These 20 acres have been left natural the whole time I’ve lived here; I don’t hunt it and neither do my kids. I love watching nature here.
I’m glad the cat is safe now. As much as I like watching her, I know there are other folks that might not feel the same. I just want her safe and to have a shot (at life). She’s beautiful even if she ate a couple of my geese!
~ JOSEPH W. McCOY
Owner of McCoy Farm and McCoy Honey Co., Producers of 100% Fancy Michigan Honey
Lynx Release Update: The lynx has been set free in the U.P. The following article was published by ABC12 News Team on April 15, 2019.
The Canada lynx captured in Huron County last month is getting used to new surroundings in the Upper Peninsula this week.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Detroit Zoological Society released the lynx in Schoolcraft County on Friday into a snowy area forested with pine trees.
“It went perfectly,” said John DePue, a DNR wildlife biologist who supervised the release of the cat. “She didn’t dart out of the carrier like some other animals would have, but that’s pretty typical lynx behavior.”
The lynx was the first captured in the Lower Peninsula in more than a century. Authorities captured the lynx on March 17 a farm near Harbor Beach in Huron County after receiving reports of it preying on geese.
“Canada lynx are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act,” said Dan Kennedy, endangered species coordinator with the DNR. “The DNR has the authority to handle federally threatened species through an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
After being captured, the lynx was held at the Howell Nature Center wildlife rehabilitation facility in Livingston County until she was able to be transferred to the Detroit Zoological Society for a health assessment.
The female cat, believed to be less than a year old, measured just over 4 feet long and weighed 18 pounds. She was treated for a foot wound, parasites and dehydration.
“The lynx was well-cared for while at our facility,” said Randi Meyerson, deputy chief life sciences officer at the Detroit Zoological Society. "We were happy to play a role in restoring her to good health so she could be returned to the wild.”
DNR wildlife biologist Cody Norton said the lynx gained more than a pound from eating rabbits and quail while under the care of Detroit Zoological Society staffers. The cat was transported north about 400 miles before a small group of DNR staffers released her into the wild.
“It’s been acting like a normal healthy cat,” Norton said.
When the lynx was released, she stepped cautiously out of the carrier and looked behind at the two biologists before walking away in the opposite direction.
“A once-in-a-career opportunity in the state of Michigan just took place,” said DNR wildlife technician Don Brown, who helped bring the lynx north.
A blood sample from the lynx had been submitted to the U.S. Forest Service’s National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation in Missoula, Montana for DNA analysis.
“The DNA of this lynx is consistent with DNA from lynx in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and Canada,” said Kristy Pilgrim, laboratory supervisor at the center.
The last lynx seen in Michigan was on Sugar Island near Sault Ste. Marie in 2010.
Tues., March 19
Whoa! This whole lynx incident has created a whirlwind of activity the past couple days....gone viral, as they say. The story has been picked up by many local and state media outlets. Since Sunday, this website has received over 6,000 views by those interested in the Canada Lynx story! Not knowing what was to come, I created this blog on Saturday to document and provide photographic proof of the existence of a lynx in the area since there have been many doubters.
One of the interesting things that has come to light is that according to a DNR representative this is the first ever reported live trapping of a lynx in the state of Michigan. Local trapper Jordan Cook deserves the credit for that. The DNR assisted with information over the weekend (thank you DNR Officer Mark Siemen) but it was Jordan who did the actual trapping.
Mon., March 18
After a long but exciting weekend, the time came to make a decision about the trapped lynx. Property owner Joe McCoy had the final say.
First off, shooting her was NEVER EVER an option. Basically, the decision came down to this: What is in the best interest of the lynx? Would it be better for her to be released back into the wild now or hand her over to the DNR who could make a determination of its future?
After much discussion with family members and friends, it was decided to allow the DNR to take possession of the lynx.
The lynx was transported this morning by DNR Wildlife Biologist Tammy Giroux to a veterinary team at a location in Michigan which specializes in animals of this type. Giroux said the lynx’s health will be evaluated and she will receive medical attention. DNA testing will be done in an effort to determine a wide variety of things such as the cat’s age, whether it is pregnant, maybe where it has been or came from (whether it was born/raised in the wild or domesticated). After that, officials will make a determination as to where to relocate the lynx to an appropriate location.
We will all be anxiously awaiting answers! Check back here as I will post updates as we receive them.
Monday Night Update: The lynx is reportedly doing well at the Howell Nature Center in Livingston County where the cat is being housed.
From the Howell Nature Center Facebook page:
This is not far from where a lynx was recently confirmed on video in February. The Canada Lynx is classified as a threatened species in Michigan with only rare sightings occurring in the last 40 years, primarily in the Upper Peninsula.
According to a DNR representative, this is the first live lynx captured in the state.
At this time, we are allowing him (or her) to settle after a stressful few days. Though caught in a leg-hold trap, no limp has been observed as yet.
A full physical examination under anesthesia will be performed soon. It is not yet clear if the lynx is a released/escaped illegal pet or is in fact, truly wild. After physical and behavioral assessments are performed, a determination will be made if it can be released back to the wild.
According to the DNR, this would likely take place in the Upper Peninsula as Michigan’s Thumb area is poor habitat for an animal who prefers a large territory of dense conifer or boreal forests.
Sun., March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)
Wow, what a new development today….according to Joe, there is a second Canada Lynx!
A lynx was captured in the grassy field early this morning. Trapper Jordan set some soft traps last night in the area where yesterday’s lynx had dragged the dead goose, some 50 feet or so from the goose pen.
At about 8:00 am Joe said he saw the trapped lynx along with a second lynx lying a few feet away. I got the call to come get some more pictures. When I arrived the second lynx was gone but I took some shots of the trapped lynx, keeping a safe distance while doing so.
Shortly thereafter, Jordan and the trapping crew (a few members of the Charleston Road Hunt Club) removed the lynx from the soft trap and put it into a large dog crate. A portion of the goose carcass was put into the crate for some food.
The trapped lynx is a female and seemed smaller than the lynx we saw yesterday and appears to have a little more brown on its body (although lighting could affect that perception, sunshine vs overcast conditions). We assume the cat we saw yesterday is a male and maybe a mate to this female.
The trapped female lynx was not injured other than for a tiny bit of blood on its right front paw which was caught in the soft trap (although that paw blood might have been from the goose carcass). The lynx was ‘somewhat’ docile after it was first put into the crate. The cat was lying down and fairly calm; Jordan said the paw was probably still numb from the trap. However, the cat became more aggressive and hissed about a half hour later when Jordan and Brett poured some drinking water onto a plate in the crate.
To help calm and protect the lynx, a blanket was put over the crate except for one side where the cat can see out and can also be seen by the second lynx.
There was no other activity witnessed today. As of dusk, the female lynx was sitting calmly and comfortably in the dog crate.
A close-up view of the lynx allows one to see nature at some of its finest. The ‘tufts’ (the black pointy hair on the tips of their ears), the huge paws and the stubby tail (with the black tip) are distinctive features of the Canada Lynx, and all are clearly visible on these McCoy Farm lynxes.
Some strands of hair and a very tiny bit of blood from the trap were secured for possible DNA testing.
Since yesterday afternoon, the three surviving geese (two ganders and a hen) have been safely housed inside a chicken coop which is located inside the goose pen. They were let out to ‘blow off some steam’ this afternoon.
The DNR was again contacted and updated today. The McCoys were in contact with a couple DNR officials including DNR Officer Siemen who said he will try to do some more research in an effort to perhaps determine how these beautiful animals got to their home here in Huron County’s Sherman Township. Our hope is that these cats can someday be released together in a less populated area where they wouldn’t be a nuisance or danger to farm animals.
Sat., March 16, 2019
It was an interesting day at my in-laws’ place on Saturday. The Joe & Cindy McCoy Farm, located east of Ruth, Michigan on Atwater Road near the Lake Huron shore, had a visitor.....a Canada Lynx!
There have been a couple reported sightings of such an animal in recent weeks in Michigan’s “Thumb” area which included a short Facebook video clip in mid-February in the Lexington area which is about 35 miles south of the McCoy Farm. Whether this is the same cat is not known for sure but it sure seems likely.
DNR Officer Mark Siemen paid us a visit and said a lynx was also reportedly seen in the Deckerville area in the past month, and another report was submitted of a sighting not too far from the McCoy Farm. Also, Sid Schock, who lives near the McCoy Farm, said he saw a lynx and captured a cell phone picture earlier this week. Upon seeing the pictures taken of the cat at McCoys, Siemen said it is definitely a Canada Lynx which is protected under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species.
The lynx was first seen at the McCoy Farm late in the day Friday (March 15) by Joe when checking his goose pen. He said some time late Thursday evening/early Friday morning something killed two of his geese and a duck which were in the fenced-in pen. The duck could not be found but the bodies of the dead geese remained in the pen. (Three other geese survived the attack.)
Moving on to Saturday morning, Joe and his son Brett were on the lookout when the lynx was seen inside the goose pen chasing the geese, at least once leaping in the air, swiping at the geese. However, the lynx failed to get a goose and jumped up and over the fence and out of the pen into the grassy field area.
I arrived about 9:30 am and pulled into the driveway and waited in my car with camera in hand with hopes of snapping a picture or two of the cat. After about 15 minutes and seeing nothing, I pulled out and drove to Joe’s nephew’s place (Tom Halifax) to pick up a trail camera. After I returned about 10 minutes later, a lynx was seen approaching the west end of the pen where one of the dead geese was lying against the pen’s fence. Our “camera crew” was about 50-60 feet away on the east end of the pen; Brett and and local trapper Jordan Cook were both able to get some cell phone video while I grabbed my Nikon D70 using a 400mm lens and started clicking. The cat feasted on part of the goose through the fence and was looking at us at various times, but continued chowing on its breakfast. After a few minutes the lynx walked back through the grassy field toward a swale area.
The cat was not seen again until about 3:30 pm when he/she returned to the goose pen. It started eating but kept trying to pull the goose through the fence. Eventually it succeeded and dragged the carcass through the grassy area.
It was a rare opportunity to see a Canada Lynx and getting some pictures was especially satisfying and rewarding. So, when and how did this lynx get here.....perhaps it came across on a frozen Lake Huron or St. Clair River, or maybe someone had it as a young ‘pet’ and released it, or maybe it was brought here by someone for some reason. Who knows?