Maine resident Daniel Wadleigh was scouting for new fishing spots in the Great North Woods recently when he happened upon a pair of Canada lynx working out some issues in very vocal fashion.


Lynx are rarely spotted at all, let alone a duo distracted enough to allow someone to film and photograph them. The slender wildcats are elusive across their range, including in this northernmost New England state where the largely uninhabited conifer backwoods comprise one of their most vital strongholds in the contiguous US.

But Wadleigh found himself with front-row seats to a roadside lynx showdown complete with eardrum-piercing caterwauling. “I figured they would see me and run,” he told Bangor Daily News. “But they stayed right where they were.” It’s not entirely uncommon for the typically skittish cats to ignore human onlookers when they are engrossed in a territorial dispute like this. The footage is not the fist that we’ve seen of lynx yowl-offs captured on backroads or trails.

Kendall Martin, a regional biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, was not too surprised by the sighting. Canada lynx are at home in the spruce and fir flats of Somerset County where this sighting took place. At this time of year, caterwauling “conversations” are common as lynx begin to rear their young, Martin points out.

“It could have been just general territoriality or two males or a female asserting dominance,” Martin explains. “Without much context, it is hard to see, but it is pretty normal for a lynx to be very vocal without a lot of displays of aggression.”

Felid fights often involve more noise than anything else, Dr Daniel Harrison, a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Maine told us about a similar sighting from 2017. "Cats are so well-equipped that they kind of avoid violence at all costs, because when they do get in a fight somebody gets hurt."

The bizarre noises are intended to intimidate as each cat tries to proclaim its dominance. It's not unlike when you're sleeping at night and hear two tomcats outside," Harrison explained.

It’s also no coincidence that the sighting took place beside a road. "Lynx use roads for travel corridors, so lynx encounter other lynx along roads," he explained. "The vast majority of lynx on roads we never see because they're in the woods before we notice them."

For Wadleigh, the rare sighting was a first.”It’s just pure amazement to me that I was able to get that video and happen to be in the right place at the right time, all while being in one of my favourite places,” he said. “I mean, can it get any cooler than that?”

Top header image: Abigail Brodsky