Joy, a dog owned by Kumie Costea, was attacked by a lynx on Jan. 30 while in their McIntyre front yard. Lynx are struggling to find food this year due to a low hare population. (Submitted)

Joy, a dog owned by Kumie Costea, was attacked by a lynx on Jan. 30 while in their McIntyre front yard. Lynx are struggling to find food this year due to a low hare population. (Submitted)

Bear spray, leashes recommended for dog walkers after lynx attacks

Low hare populations have led to hungry, aggressive lynx, Conservation says

Yukon Conservation Officer Services is warning that aggressive lynx are present in Whitehorse, after a dog was attacked in McIntyre on Jan. 30.

Kumie Costea, a McIntyre resident, said he let his dog, Joy, onto his front lawn for a quick pee last Saturday. A conservation officer happened to be driving past as a lynx attacked.

“He pulled the lynx off of her and had to shoot it,” Costea said. “The lynx bit all over her back and tore off her ear.”

Costea said he heard Joy scratching at the door and opened it to find her injured. The officer drove him to the vet and informed him he had been patrolling for aggressive lynx due to earlier reports of them attacking animals in the area.

“If the (conservation officer) wasn’t there, she would have definitely died,” Costea said.

It’s rare for lynx to attack pets or livestock near humans, explained Diana Dryburgh-Moraal, spokesperson for the Department of Environment.

Several incidents of lynx attacks this year, including in McIntyre and in Beaver Creek last month, are signs that lynx are struggling to find food.

“This is likely due to the hare population — the hare population fluctuates quite extremely — and the lynx population is closely tied to that population,” Dryburgh-Moraal said.

“When there are not enough hares on the land to support the lynx then that leads to lynx that are food-stressed, and they will then search in abnormal spaces, such as residential areas, and act more boldly in order to find food.”

The natural population cycle of hares surges and wanes, Dryburgh-Moraal said. When they overbreed, the hares’ habitat can’t support the high number. The population will crash for a couple of years until a new balance is found and numbers grow again.

Conservation services determined this must be a low-population year, leading to aggressive lynx, as they rely on the animals as a food staple.

Yukoners are encouraged to keep pets supervised and walked on a leash to keep them close. Even starving lynx are less likely to attack a pet with a person closeby, Dryburgh-Moraal explained. It’s also extremely unlikely that a hungry lynx would ever attack a person.

“You can also carry a deterrent with you, something like bear spray or a walking stick or hiking pole that would give you something to help fend off the animal if an attack were to occur,” Dryburgh-Moraal said.

“Bear spray is effective on all sorts of wildlife, not necessarily just bears.”

Costea said that Joy escaped the situation “by the skin on her neck” and was thankfully found to have escaped any serious fractures. The dog is now on antibiotics and pain medication and is expected to make a nearly full recovery.

“Of course, there’s nothing we can do about the ear, but she’ll be fine,” he said.

Anyone who has an aggressive encounter with a lynx should call the conservation tip line at 1-800-661-0525.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at


Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has announced 30 new COVID-19 cases on June 21 for a total of 100 active cases. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon experiencing community spread among unvaccinated: Hanley

Territory logs 30 new cases on June 21, for a total of 68 new cases this weekend

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read