Ear to the ground:

“They were just so excited about the girlfriend and that I wasn’t gay that they forgot all about the long hair.”
– Twentysomething on a recent trip to Texas to visit the parents


As if navigating Molas Pass in winter isn’t nerve-wracking enough, there’s something else drivers should be looking out for.

On Dec. 11, Durangoan Jody Furtney, along with others, was heading up the pass from Silverton when she came upon what appeared to be a large dog running in her lane. Upon closer inspection, she realized it was actually a large cat: a lynx, to be exact.

Photo by Jody Furtney

Furtney got photos of the cat, which was “nonchalantly jogging” in the road before it went up a nearby hill. When she got home, she posted the pics and story to Facebook and filed a sighting with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“Several people mentioned they thought they had seen this lynx or a similar one on Molas,” she said. “He doesn’t seem to be afraid of cars. I’m hoping people drive slowly over Molas so they don’t hit him.

CPW Species Conservation Program Manager Eric Odell, in Fort Collins, said despite the proclivity to use the male pronoun, there is no way to tell from the photo whether the lynx is male or female. He did note the absence of a radio collar means it is likely a Colorado native.

“Based on size the of the individual, it does not appear to be young (born this year), but beyond that it is difficult to make any more specific determination,” he said, adding that the animal has a healthy coat and appears to be in good shape otherwise.

Odell said he gets reports from time to time from the area of the highly secretive cats, which average about 30 pounds. There’s no telling what this particular one was doing so close to the road, but during the winter, the animals travel with their mates, so it is possible there was another nearby. In the spring, they part ways to embark on their “summer walkabouts,” with the females raising their litters.

Canadian lynx were re-introduced in Colorado beginning in 1997. Several of the elusive tuft-eared cats were let go near Creede and tracked with radio collars. However, those collars have long since quit emitting, making it impossible to tell if any of the original release-ees are still alive.

In 2010, the high-profile reintroduction was deemed a success. However, according to Odell, there’s no way to gauge numbers. However, CPW did recently start an “occupancy monitoring” program in the San Juans, whereby noninvasive methods such as trail cams and backcountry hikes and skis are being used to track the animals. “This will give us a feel for how they’re doing in the southwest part of the state,” he said.

Oh, and in case you’re lucky enough to stumble upon one in the wild, or right off the roadside, Odell reminds people to treat it as any other wildlife sighting. “Don’t touch the lynx,” he said.

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows