A lynx found dead at Purgatory Resort on Jan. 8 died of natural causes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Wednesday.
The lynx was seen by dozens of people at the ski area, and a video of the cat was viewed on social media nearly 1 million times.
A necropsy of the 11-year-old male found a tumor in the animal’s throat that prevented it from eating. Although not common, tumors are found in wildlife, Wednesday’s news release from Parks and Wildlife said.
“The cat lived a long life in the wild and spent its time in some of Colorado’s most incredible backcountry,” said Scott Wait, senior terrestrial biologist for CPW’s southwest region.
A chip was found in the lynx that revealed the cat was born in the Bear Creek area near Telluride in 2005. The cat’s mother was one of the original lynx released in the reintroduction program. A record number of lynx dens, 16, were reported that year by biologists.
In 2009, the cat was captured and fitted with a GPS collar, which revealed that it was living in the remote area between Telluride, Rico and the Purgatory ski area. The collar eventually fell off the animal.
“The lynx lived in what is the best type of habitat for its species, high elevation and thick spruce-fir forest. This shows that much of Colorado’s high country is suitable lynx habitat,” Wait said.
Southwest wildlife officer Patt Dorsey said last week that the lynx was being tested at a Fort Collins laboratory.
Dorsey said the lynx was known to wildlife officials and that it likely had many offspring.
“That’s really old for a wild cat,” Dorsey said.
The average lifespan for a lynx is up to 15 years.
A video of a lynx strolling through the slopes of Purgatory surfaced Dec. 28 and instantly gained national attention. The video was posted by Durango resident Arrick Hix.
At least two subsequent videos of a lynx at the resort were posted on social media sites.