Lynx with Leg Trap Injuries


Figure 1. Canada lynx waking up from sedation after admission to Tufts Wildlife Clinic.

A three-year-old male Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) was admitted to Tufts Wildlife Clinic on August 26. The lynx had been caught in a leghold trap in Maine and sustained a fracture of the two bones in his left forearm, the radius and ulna (Figure 2 & 3). Fortunately, the fractures were fresh and not open through the skin. In addition to the leg injury, he was thin and slightly dehydrated but no other abnormalities were seen on physical examination.

The next day, the lynx was taken to the Small Animal Surgical Clinic in the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts. Dr. Randy Boudrieau, a small animal surgeon, repaired the leg fractures using a combination of cerclage wires, plates and screws (Figure 3). The surgery went smoothly and the lynx woke up from anesthesia without any complications.

The patient was allowed to recover in a run in Tufts Wildlife Clinic’s Carnivore Ward. Fortunately, he had a good appetite and ate readily from his first day here. In order to clean his pen and feed him safely, the staff had to shift him from one run to another. The lynx was a quick learner and cooperated with this procedure once he got the idea that food awaited him on the other side! Radiographs taken four weeks post-op showed that the fractures were healing well. He had also gained almost 3 kg (6.6 lb) during this time period. By October 17th, the leg was adequately healed and the lynx was allowed to move into an outdoor pen. He was observed to be walking normally and exploring his surroundings after this move. On October 29, the lynx was again sedated for radiographs and weighing. Radiographs again showed good healing and he had gained 1.3 kg (2.9 lb) during this four week period. The last radiographs were taken on December 5 and at that time the leg was considered to be adequately healed for release. At this point, the lynx weighed 12 kg (26.4 lb). He was in excellent body condition and his fur had grown thicker after exposure to outdoor temperatures.

Lynx radiographLynx radiographLynx radiograph

Figure 2(Left). Front to back view of fractured leg.
Figure 3 (Middle). Lateral view of left radial/ulnar fractures.
Figure 4 (Right). Lateral view of left foreleg after surgical repair.

The lynx was sedated for the final time on January 8. At this time, he weighed 12.3 kg (27.1 lb). An ear tag and radio collar were placed on the animal and various morphometric measurements were taken. He was released in northern Maine near his capture site the following day – reports are that he bounded out of his crate and disappeared from sight within a few seconds! At present, he is being tracked by biologists from Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife on a weekly basis. Our hope is that he will survive this winter and go on to lead a long, healthy life back in the wild.

Lynx SedationLynx Release
Figure 4 (Left). Final sedation – note radiocollar and large paws!
Figure 5
(Right). One last look before going back to the wild.

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