It's not every day you see a chain of lynx (yep, that's the collective noun) wandering down your street. But Anchorage resident Michael Gerstle wasn't about to let his surprise get in the way of an amazing photo op – or let his three-year-old daughter miss the feline show. 

"I don't know if she'll remember it, but I knew it was pretty special," Gerstle told local media outlet Alaska Dispatch News. "She was staring out the window in awe."

The sighting began with just one lynx sauntering along the road, according to Gerstle. This alone was interesting enough for him to take a few snapshots with his phone – it was the first lynx he had seen since moving to Alaska four years ago. But then the sighting went from unusual to extraordinary: four more cats emerged from the treeline.

Realising he was watching something very special, Gerstle dashed off for his DSLR camera, but the lynx had moved off by the time he made it back. "It was pretty obvious that they were interested in something over the snowbank that was just off the road," he said.

According to Ken Marsh, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation, encounters like this one are rare – but they do happen. When they breed, generally in the spring, Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) usually have litters of four to six kittens, and it's not uncommon for a mother lynx to be in the company of her young, Marsh told Alaska Dispatch News.

He added that lynx populations fluctuate cyclically, and are closely tied to the availability of the cats' favourite food: snowshoe hares. A mother lynx will spend up to a year teaching the youngsters to hunt and fend for themselves.

This is hardly the first time Anchorage residents have come into close contact with the local lynx population. Back in 2013, a woman filmed what looked to be a young lynx investigating her front deck.

Sightings like this one happen in no small part because lynx – much like every laser-chasing, shoe-ambushing house cat alive – are inquisitive by nature, according to Alaska Fish and Game biologist Jesse Coltrane.

"The thing with lynx is they're really super curious," he said.


Top image: Keith Williams/Flickr