This family of five Canada lynx was a welcome surprise when the cats strolled across the front yard of Denyse and Alan Michaud of St. Agatha on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Credit: Courtesy of Denyse and Alan Michaud

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The amazing assortment of incredible wild animals in Maine continues to thrill those who are fortunate to catch a glimpse of them.

That was the case on Wednesday morning in Aroostook County at the home of Denyse and Alan Michaud of St. Agatha.

The couple was bedazzled by the unexpected appearance of five beautiful Canada lynx, photos and video of which they were kind enough to share with Bangor Daily News readers.

“It was about 7 a.m.,” Alan Michaud said. “Denyse and I were having coffee as I was getting ready to go to work when I spotted them.”

Lynx are reclusive and prone to staying in the forests. They hunt snowshoe hares, which make up 75 percent of their diet.

“I believe that seeing this many of them all together is rare,” Alan Michaud said. “I’m thinking that it’s the mother and her kittens. The first one is larger than the other four.”

Most of us have never had the opportunity to see such a large group of lynx, but the dynamics are typical of lynx in the wild, according to Jennifer Vashon, Canada lynx and black bear biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

“It appears to be an adult female with four of her offspring,” Vashon said. “This is within the normal realm of a family group’s behavior. Kittens remain with their mother through the first 10 to 12 months of life. During this time, they are learning how to hunt and capture prey effectively.”

Vashon explained that lynx may have up to five kittens in a litter, which means a group of four points to a good scenario for the animals in such cases.

“Litter size is strongly correlated with prey abundance,” she said. “When there are a lot of snowshoe hares, litters of four to five kittens are very common. Observations like this one, suggest (at least locally) high habitat quality and prey levels.”

Lynx kittens, which are born in May, are able to travel with their mother by early July, and stay with her until the following spring.

“The energetic needs of a family group are much higher and they are much more efficient at catching their prey when they hunt cooperatively as a family group,” Vashon said. “The family unit begins to dissolve at the onset of the breeding season (late winter).”

Even so, Vashon said the kittens have been known to hang out together when the family disburses, or even to rejoin their mother after having branched out on their own.

“Although often thought of as solitary individuals, related lynx and especially related female lynx can be very tolerant of each other,” Vashon said, citing an intensive telemetry study done many years ago in northern Maine.

Vashon said that during the breeding season, in late February and March, there often are reports of two lynx together. They are typically a breeding pair, or two males engaged in some sort of territorial dispute.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...