reports that retired National Park Service employee Steve Chaney, spotted and snapped the photo of the lynx in southwest Colorado in the weekend of January 19-29.
According to UPI
, he snapped the photo of the cats from the window of his car on Molas Pass between Silverton and Durango in the San Juan National Forest around 8:30 a.m.
The photo was also received with enthusiasm on the social new site Reddit
, where it received over 1,000 comments and over 3,000 votes.
The Huffington Post
reports that an encounter with a pair of lynx in the Western slopes of Colorado is such a rare incident that the Smithsonian magazine dubbed them "ghost cats."
The pair in the photo was spotted walking along a steep snowy roadside.
The native lynx population in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife died out in the early 1970s due to trapping, poisoning and encroachment of their natural habitat.
In 1999, the state's wildlife agency embarked on a program to restore the population in the remote San Juan Mountains by introducing individuals from Alaska and Canada where there is a thriving population. By 2005 more than 200 animals were introduced and the population began expanding.
The Denver Post
notes that the much more common bobcat is often mistaken for a lynx. The lynx is larger with a shorter tail and weighs between 20 to 30 pounds. It has a black-tipped bobtail and large hind feet with prominent ear tufts.
They breed in late winter, and the kittens are born in April or May. They are native to thick sub-alpine forests and "willow-choked corridors along mountain streams and avalanche chutes," the Denver Post