Traffic accidents claim record number of lynx

Dozens of lynx were hit and killed by cars last year in what experts believe could be record numbers of Swedish deaths for the night-prowling felines.

Traffic accidents claim record number of lynx
A lynx at a Swedish animal park. File photo: Nordens Ark/Flickr

In 2013, traffic accidents claimed the lives of 40 lynx. Sweden is home to an estimated 1,000 to 1,400 of the medium-sized feline, known for thin tufts of dark hair sprouting at the tip of its ears.

"The lynx are probably not as shy as we often think," said Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) spokesman Magnus Kristoffersson. 

The number of animals that died last year was unusually high. Statistics show that about 20 to 30 lynx have died annually in traffic accidents in previous years.

"I don't know that you can say that it's an increase or a random variation," said Kristoffersson.

The number of lynx was thinned in the north of Sweden where they threatened the reindeer industry, but Kristofferson noted that the animal often comes close to humans and is not, despite its reputation, very shy.

"Because their primary prey outside the reindeer zones are deer, which in turn like to be among houses, it also means that the lynx are often there," he explained, adding that the lynx are active at night which could explain both why humans don't see them often, and why they are hit by cars whose drivers do not see them in time. 

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