All Kytra Petersen Workman saw through the window looking onto her deck Wednesday was furry legs, so she went to investigate.
What she found was a bit of a shock: The lynx that came for lunch.
Lunch, in the form of a 12-pound pug named Kiwi, was cowering over against the side of the house when Workman stepped onto the deck. The lynx had managed to get a paw on the dog and scratch Kiwi, but the pug had escaped.
The lynx, however, wasn’t giving up.
“I had to chase the lynx off because it didn’t want to leave,” the Oceanview mother said on Friday. “I chased it down the stairs.”
Unfortunately, the family’s other pug – Biggie – was in the yard below. Biggie, being a Biggie, decided he could take on any cat. The cat took Biggie to be another tasty opportunity, but then had second thoughts.
Fortunately, in Workman’s words, Biggie is “heftier.”
Workman remembers looking at Biggie in the yard and thinking “this is unreal.”
Welcome to the city that once pitched itself as the Big Wild Life. Workman was living the life this week.
Wildlife Wednesday, Workman said, started with moose in the yard chowing down on the Halloween pumpkins – a rather common, post-Halloween occurrence in Alaska’s largest city. The lynx less so.
An animal that exists primarily on a diet of snowshoe hares, lynx numbers in the Anchorage area fall to very few and rise to almost common as snowshoe hare populations cycle up and down. The brown in summer, white in winter, long-logged bunnies are now near or at a high in Anchorage, and there are a lot of lynx around, though few so bold as the one Workman encountered.
After giving up on Biggie, the lynx went into a neighbor’s yard and grabbed a fowl.
“At first I thought he had a chicken,” Workman said, chicken’s being something of an urban farming rage in the far north these days. “But he came out with a duck.”
The lynx, she wrote on her Facebook page, “was trying to kill it and I had by that time grabbed a broom and started waving it around, it was enough distraction for it to escape….So then the duck ran under my truck while the lynx proceeded to stalk and try to kill it. I was able to capture and save the duck.”
“My neighbors thought I was acting like a mad woman,” she said Friday.
But she did manage to save the life of at least one duck. Another was not so lucky.
Workman later talked to a neighbor who came home to find a scatter of feathers and a dead duck.
“He killed one of them,” Workman said, and then caught some other domestic animal. She doesn’t know what. The lynx was carrying it off when last seen. Workman was hoping it wasn’t someone’s pet.
“I don’t want him (the lynx) getting hurt,” she said, “but I don’t want him killing people’s pets.”
She posted a warning to that effect on Facebook at Anchorage Pets Lost and Found along with a video of the lynx hanging out in Oceanview, a 70-eras neighborhood in South Anchorage that abuts the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.
The post promptly sparked a discussion about how providing the address of the lynx sighting might endanger the animal. Some feared it might be targeted and killed.
Anchorage residents love their wildlife when they aren’t living in fear of their wildlife.
There are no records of a wild lynx killing anyone in North America, but the animals are known to respond aggressively if they feel cornered. Wildlife biologists say people should give them safe space to escape any encounter.
Moose are far more dangerous and need to be treated with a great deal of respect no matter how friendly they might seem. Two people have been stomped to death in Anchorage in recent years and many have been injured, some seriously.
Moose are far more common than lynx, which range widely.
Workman said Friday that she’d heard no more reports of the lynx in the neighborhood since Wednesday, and she offered a telling remark on life in Anchorage’s largest city.
“There’s more wildlife action at our home than at the cabin,” she said.