By Dan Elliot, Associated Press
A rare lynx has been found dead in Colorado, days after it caused a stir by calmly walking across a ski run — a moment captured on cellphone videos and repeatedly shared on social media.
Lynx are normally elusive animals and sightings are uncommon.
The lynx’s body was emaciated and the animal might have been ill, which could account for its odd behavior, lingering near people at the Purgatory Resort, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Joe Lewandowski said Monday.
“It was in bad body condition,” Lewandowski said. That wasn’t apparent from the videos, he said.
The ski patrol found the animal’s carcass Sunday.
A necropsy, the animal equivalent of an autopsy, will be done to try to determine the cause of death, Lewandowski said.
Videos showed the lynx strolling across a ski run on Dec. 28 and later. Lewandowski says biologists are convinced it was the same lynx found dead.
Between 50 and 250 lynx live in the wild in Colorado, mostly in the southwestern corner of the state. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act in the contiguous 48 states.
Lynx were native to Colorado but virtually disappeared from the state by the 1970s because of hunting, poisoning and development. The state brought them back starting in 1999, transplanting the animals from Canada and Alaska.
Officials at first weren’t surprised by the lynx’s appearance at Purgatory because the resort is in prime lynx habitat.
“But after I saw three more videos of the same animal behaving the same way in the same area I figured that something was wrong with the cat,” Parks and Wildlife biologist Scott Wait said.
Two weeks before the sighting at Purgatory Resort, a driver spotted a pair of lynx walking along a mountain highway about 15 miles north of the resort.
Wait said not all lynx that venture near people are sick.