Yellowknife house cat faces down lynx through window pane

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Of all the beasts of the northern wild, the lynx — a large forest cat with fur-spiked ears and saucer-wide paws – is perhaps the most elusive.

Even seasoned hunters rarely encounter the feline, according to the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

This week however, Lianne Mantla-Look captured not one — but two — of the wild cats on camera when they appeared on the back deck of her home in Yellowknife’s Kam Lake neighbourhood.

Mantla-Look was sick and in bed when she noticed something out the window.

« There was just this face, » she said.

But it wasn’t until Mantla-Look’s own pet cat Cheese began hissing that she realized what was going on.

« I looked and there was this baby lynx just hanging out. »

Unusual scene

Thinking quickly, Mantla-Look began filming the unusual scene. She later sent the footage to CBC.

Mantla-Look’s video was shot during one of those pristine winter days, when the sun hangs low and radiant in the sky, and the posts and lintels of, say, a Kam Lake back deck, cast long, powder-blue shadows on the freshly-fallen snow.

But on this day, the frosty film that coated Mantla-Look’s upper-level deck was marked with the distinctive prints of cat — a cat much larger than Cheese.

In the video, a young-looking lynx can be seen prowling the deck, poking about as if looking for something.

At about 43 seconds in, the scene is punctuated by an exclamation: « Oh my god, » says Mantla-Look, as she pans the camera, dramatically, to the left.

« I started taking a video and some pictures and then I looked down on the main level of our house, just right down below the deck, and there was another lynx, hanging out down there, » she said.

My cat tried to protect us.– Lianne Mantla-Look

But before video viewers can digest the extraordinary event that is unfolding before them, Cheese reacts.

The first lynx has approached the window and is peering inside and pawing at the frame.

Cheese leaps at the glass.

« My cat tried to protect us, » said Mantla-Look.

Protect them Cheese did. The lynx, defeated, turns around and stalks off.

« After Cheese growled and hissed, the lynx eventually ran off and into the woods, » said Mantla-Look.

« I’ve never seen a lynx this up close and personal before, so it is a pretty incredible experience. »

Many questions remain: why did the two lynx (or lynxes, both plural forms are correct, according to Merriam-Webster) emerge from the wilderness in broad daylight? Why did they venture onto Mantla-Look’s property, specifically? What, on earth, were they looking for?

About lynx-number-one, Mantla-Look has some theories.

« I think it just kind of got curious, » she said. « And probably a little bit hungry. »

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Take that Canada! Yellowknife cold weather warning just another day in the North

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With temperatures as low as –36 C in Yellowknife, Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning on Sunday afternoon through to Monday morning, and Canadians continued the tradition of one-upping each other’s chilly cities.

Last Friday, the City of Toronto issued an extreme cold warning for –8 C, which prompted a cheeky « Aww that’s cute » response from a Winnipeg Twitter account.

Manitoba has seen extreme cold warnings for days, with wind chills making it feel like –53 and daytime temperatures around –30 C.

But by Yellowknife’s standards, Toronto’s weather seems almost pleasant. 

« I think this [is] the coldest place I’ve been in my life, » exclaimed Jessie Zou, who was visiting the territory’s capital from Vancouver, or as she describes it: « The warmest city in Canada. »

She says the coldest day she’s experienced in British Columbia is a balmy –6 C, a full 30 degrees warmer than Monday morning in Yellowknife. She was glad to be going home to Vancouver on Monday.

Jessie Zou was visiting Yellowknife from Vancouver. She experienced an extreme cold warning in Yellowknife Monday, on the last day of her trip. (Andrew Pacey/CBC)

Patrick Jacobson also hails from Vancouver, and has been in the North for four years. To him, there’s no comparing B.C.’s weather to Yellowknife’s.

« You don’t hit extreme temperatures like this, but [in Vancouver] you do kind of get that chilled through to your bone kind of sensation, » Jacobson said.

The extreme cold criteria is based on climatology and people’s capacity to adapt to extreme cold.– Matt MacDonald, Environment Canada

« There’s a bit of a survivor mentality [in Yellowknife], it kind of feels good to get through a winter up here… It feels like something that Canadians should be used to. »

Jacobson said he had « a bit of a chuckle » at an extreme cold warning issued for Vancouver on Jan. 15, when it was about –1 C outside.

‘It kind of feels good to get through a winter up here,’ said Patrick Jacobson. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

How do cold warnings work?

For Trisha Paradis, who’s lived in the North for almost 15 years, Monday was just a typical day. She has trouble understanding what prompts some weather warnings.

« The ones that I don’t understand [are] when they put in Edmonton it’s –20 with the –25 wind chill and they get an extreme cold warning, and we’re at –40-something, no extreme cold warnings. »

« Our extreme cold warnings are based on a specific criteria for different locations, » explained Matt MacDonald, a spokesperson for Environment Canada. 

For Trisha Paradis, Monday morning’s –36 C weather was just a typical January day in Yellowknife. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

For example, in Yellowknife Environment Canada issues an extreme cold warning when the wind chill or air temperature drops to –50 for at least two hours; on B.C.’s south coast it’s –35, and for Toronto it’s –30.

« The extreme cold criteria is based on climatology and people’s capacity to adapt to extreme cold, » MacDonald said.

As long as we dress for it, it’s not a big deal.– Trisha  Paradis , Yellowknife resident

However, he said sometimes cities will issue cold weather warnings, especially if they have a large homeless population.

Yellowknife’s overnight temperature drops below zero 225 days a year, according to Environment Canada. By comparison, Vancouver sees an average of 40 nights a year drop below zero.

Of course, this week’s cold weather also isn’t out of the ordinary for this time of year. The average low for Jan. 28 is –30.4 C. It’s supposed to warm up to a comfortable high of –26 C in Yellowknife on Tuesday. By Thursday, the city is forecasted to be back to a low of –37 C.

Paradis has advice for getting through the cold.

« Get a little bit more bundled up, then we’re fine… as long as we dress for it, it’s not a big deal. »

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Meet Elon Muskox, the Yellowknife sculpture named after Tesla CEO

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One of Yellowknife’s most high-profile new residents has a new name: Elon Muskox. 

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty announced the name for the life-size sculpture, located outside Yellowknife city hall, Friday morning on CBC News Network with Heather Hiscox. 

Elon Muskox beat out hundreds of suggestions from local residents submitted to Yellowknife city hall over the last week and a half. They’ve ranged from the serious (Me’die’ah — « the bearded one ») to the absurd (Musky McMuskoxface) and everywhere in between. 

The muskox sculpture previously represented the Northwest Territories at a special exhibit in Gatineau, Que. It’s a « mosaiculture artwork » — a sculpture made from living ingredients. Its fuzzy surface is covered with sprouted plants that will make the sculpture look shaggier over time.

This muskox sculpture, located outside Yellowknife’s city hall, finally has a new name: Elon Muskox. (John Last/CBC)

Alty said there’s hope that Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, will appreciate the name. « We’re hoping he’ll come to visit now … the muskox would love to see him. »

The winning name was chosen by Yellowknife residents, who voted on all the submitted options online. Eric Fuhrmann, who submitted the name, will claim a one-month family pass to the city’s facilities for suggesting the winner. Yellowknife mayor Rebecca Alty announces the winning entry in a contest to name a mosaiculture muskox statue donated to the city last month. 4:59

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