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


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read