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Helping To Save The Canada Lynx | News

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Helping To Save The Canada Lynx

The Canada Lynx is one of the last of the big wild cats left in the United States. Although their population is robust in Northern Canada, their numbers are considered endangered in the States, with only a few hundred in the wild. In East Aurora, Hawk Creek Wildlife Center recently began an ambitious Canada Lynx breeding program, one that will not only help strengthen breeding stock of the species, but also will provide a companion for their beloved resident Lynx, Kodiak. Loretta Jones is founder of Hawk Creek." We're just starting our program, but we know we need to do it, because it used to live in NY State and we're losing our cats , so we need to do it." Tanya Lowe is Director Of Wildlife Education at the center." Animals have emotions, they have needs other than food,water,shelter. And for Kodiak right now, that is a companion."

But those beginnings have come at a high price, and have been fraught with adversity. Earlier this summer, Hawk Creek purchased their first lynx kitten, the genesis to the breeding program. Although the kitten, a female named Accadia, seemed healthy at first, problems arose at an early visit to the vet. It's common practice to anesthetize wild animals during many procedures, and it was then disaster struck. Lowe recalls." We did have to have the cat go into the vet, and unfortunately within a couple minutes of being put under the anesthesia, Accadia died on the table."

Although Accadia's loss was heartbreaking, the wildlife center remained unfazed. Another search found a second kitten,one a little older, named Sitka. She and Kodiak became fast friends, bonding in their very first meeting. "They were instant soulmates." Says Lowe " Immediately Sitka did a "whoop ! " , ran over and tried to give Kodiak a head butt, which is how many cats greet each other, only she wasn't very successful with it because she was too short ! So she went for the head butt, and went right underneath his legs ! "

But the friendship between Kodiak and Sitka was to be a short one. Despite taking additional precautions, despite using a minimal amount of anesthetic, the unthinkable happened again. Sitka was lost in a similar situation to Accadia. The staff at Hawk Creek was devastated, as was Kodiak. Lowe recallls sadly.
" I went in there to tell him what had happened, whether he knew it or not, it was more for me....and I've never seen him so still. He came over, head butted me, and just laid in my lap and looked at me. He knew something happened."

The loss of both Sitka and Accadia were determined to be due to weak hearts, a problem caused by inbreeding. Ironically, by monitoring lineage, a new breeding program would ensure that inbreeding doesn't happen.
But adversity has a way of strengthening those in need, and the wildlife center perseveres despite the devastating financial damage caused by their loss.They know it's critical for both Kodiak and his wild brethren . Jones tells 2 The Outdoors.
" It was brutal financially because we're a small organization, we not only ate up the funds for two very expensive species, emotionally it was devastating, and I'm not sure if we'll ever recover from that." 

So for now, Kodiak waits patiently for a new mate, calling forlornly in hope of a reply...and Hawk Creek moves forward, resolved to make the breeding program a reality, and help these beautiful Northern natives remain strong and healthy. Lowe looks to the future." For us, it would be easy for us to throw in the towel and say "no more ", but he reminds us every day that not only do lynx need help, but, he needs a friend."

 Hawk Creek is a small not for profit, and welcomes any help they can get to acquire a new lynx kitten and get the breeding program up and running. To donate to this worthy cause, you can go to their page at   http://www.indiegogo.com/hawkcreeklynx  or visit the center's website at www.hawkcreek.org



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