Her eight-pound puppy caught in the claws of a lynx, Shania Tymchatyn sprang into action.
It happened fast.
“All I remember is falling to the ground and pulling them apart,” Tymchatyn said Monday night. “I remember throwing my dog the opposite way from us and grabbing this animal by the neck and body and managing to get myself on top of it.”
Tymchatyn and her boyfriend David were walking their three dogs toward Rat Lake and Tin Can Hill shortly after 5 p.m. Monday afternoon. That’s when the lynx, which had been spotted around Yellowknife earlier in the day, pounced from the long grass and grabbed Arlo, a nine-month-old Shih Tzu-Yorkie.
Arlo is easily the smallest of their three “fur babies,” the others being Ella, another Yorkie and a rescued Rottweiler-Shepherd mix named after Dillon, Sask., where she was found.
Puppy ‘stunned’ at lynx
Tymchatyn said her puppy was almost silent during the encounter.
“I was training Arlo to stay close, so I had treats in my hand,” she said. “I think the pup was stunned. The lynx had him down on his stomach. It happened so quickly, the lynx didn’t really have a chance to get a good grip of him.”
Still sitting on the lynx because she was worried it would attack one of their other dogs if she let go, Tymchatyn called for help.
As luck would have it, an acquaintance from work who lives in one of the nearby condos heard her screams. It wasn’t until he told her it was a lynx that she realized what she had been holding down.
She said she avoided looking directly at the lynx because its relatively large eyes scared her.
Dave rounded up Dillon and Ella. It’s unclear who called the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), which dispatched officers at around 6 p.m. They didn’t arrive before Tymchatyn released the lynx, which had started hissing and writhing underneath her. She guessed she had been holding it for about 20 minutes and thought it was having trouble breathing.
“The last we saw of him, he was walking on the Rat Lake trail,” she said.
Tymchatyn said she and Dave warned a number of pet owners about the lynx as they passed by either returning to town from the off-leash dog area or heading toward it.
“Please keep your fur babies close to you and never let them go out of sight,” she advised. “I will do anything it takes to save my fur babies so please do the same.”
ENR noted decline in snowshoe hares
Mike Westwick, ENR spokesperson, said wildlife sightings and “unfortunate” encounters like Arlo’s should be reported to the department by calling 867-873-7181. He confirmed Renewable Resource Officers from the North Slave Regional Office have responded to multiple calls related to the Lynx sightings in Yellowknife.
“Despite quick responses to each call, ENR officers have not been able to locate the animal yet given how quickly it has been moving,” Westwick said.
Lynx in Canada tend to depend on small game like rabbits as their main food source. They usually hunt at night. Westwick said Snowshoe hare monitoring in the Yellowknife area suggests that hare numbers peaked last year, and declined last summer.
“Declines cause lynx to seek food elsewhere, including within community limits.”
He said the sooner a sighting is reported to ENR, the better the chances are officers will be able to find the animal.
“Our officers will continue to patrol the city,” he said. “Our first choice is always to catch the animal and release it away from the community.”
Westwick said it’s a good time to be mindful of your household pets.
“If you do come across a lynx, the best thing to do is keep your distance,” he said. “In rare cases, they may become more aggressive if they feel cornered or have been infected with rabies. Safety should always come first.”