How the problem of the missing lynx was finally solved

  • 2004-11-25
  • By Milda Seputyte
PANEVEZYS - We've all seen the amusing spectacle of a cat that boldly runs up a tree and then, suddenly unsure of how to get back down, gets stuck up there with a slightly embarrassed look on its face. But no one expected the unlikely cat rescuing scene that unfolded in the center of Panevezys last week, which drew in people from the Panevezys' Hunters Association and Panevezys' Young Naturalists Center.

It all began when a rather exotic-looking, large, grayish cat, which just happens to be listed in Lithuania's Red Book (an official list of endangered species), was found sitting at the top of an apple-tree in the city center.

Dozens of people stood around watching with both curiosity and fear at the young tree-trapped lynx, which is extremely rare in Lithuania. But when a crew of feline-fetching firemen arrived at the scene to take charge, they seemed utterly nonplussed as to what they should do. You almost expected them to start saying "Here kitty, kitty..."

But it's not for nothing that the firemen were apprehensive about the situation. After all, by jumping from the branch of a tree and applying a couple of skilled bites to the throat, a lynx can dispatch a well-built elk, let alone a bony Lithuanian fireman.

So the Panevezys firemen stood around and weighed their options. Most likely they discussed wildcat programs they'd seen on the Discovery Channel for a clue as to how they might get the poor lynx down. Perhaps one even secretly hoped that Spider-Man would swing by and save the day.

But the firemen were happily spared having to risk their lives when the lynx, doubtless disturbed by all the unwanted attention, and which is not especially well-known for its amiable character, decided to look for a more peaceful spot and quickly slipped down the tree and made off toward a nearby kindergarten.

Having slipped through the firemen's grasp, the lynx then wandered about Panevezys for a couple of days.

On top of that, another of only some 7,000 lynxes alive in the world was spotted strolling around Lithuania's fourth largest city just a couple of hours later.

This time it was a young female, which was a sibling of the runaway youngster. Having seemingly learned their lesson with the other male lynx, and with the help of an experienced hunter, the firemen were more adroit this time round and managed to catch it in a parking lot.

As for the first lynx, he was eventually apprehended after being seen on a downtown street a few days later. Recognizing his would-be firemen captors, the lynx tried to find a hideaway. He followed a lady as she hastily entered a Nord/LB Lietuva bank in an attempt to escape from the creature. But this turned out to be a major tactical mistake and the bank bars were soon replaced with cage bars.

The five-month-old lynx was then temporarily placed in the care of a local Young Naturalist Center, where his apprehended escapee sibling was waiting.

Experts still cannot decide what to do with the two young lynxes. They were in captivity in the first place because they had been deemed a potential threat to local people and they themselves were deemed to be in danger because their mother had been killed.

Some argue that the lynxes should be sent to Kaunas Zoo, while others say they should be sent back to their natural environment. But if released into the woods, the lynxes would certainly be put at risk. A lynx mother usually takes care of her offspring for three years after their birth.

Experts have also warned that a typical lynx litter is made up of three or four young, but only two animals have been found so far. So the locals in Panevezys would be well advised to keep a careful eye open when walking beneath any apple trees in the city center.