Lynx Maks inspired an investigation of wildlife crossing the highway

Posted - Nov 10, 2023

Ljubljana – Trieste highway in Slovenia has been long recognized as a strong barrier for wildlife passing between the Dinaric Mountains and the South Eastern Alps, including the lynx. While habitat suitability for lynx is high at both sides of the highway, the infrastructure represents a serious barrier for lynx to cross as it has no wildlife crossing structures.

However, to everyone’s surprise, one of the translocated lynx, Maks, managed to cross the highway one day. He made his epic trip to the Alps, and since he found no conspecifics there, he returned back to the Dinaric Mountains, crossing the same highway again. While his journey inspired a Slovenian writer (Desa Muck) who wrote a book about Maks, we decided to scientifically investigate his extraordinary movement.

Lynx Maks. Photo: Miha Krofel, LIFE Lynx

In a Master’s thesis, Luka Seidl, under the mentorship of Urša Fležar and Miha Krofel from Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, studied how and where Maks crossed the highway. In the study they monitored 8 existing highway under- and overpasses passes for human use with camera traps. Lynx Maks was mostly crossing one particular underpass approximately 20 km from Ljubljana. Moreover, they wanted to know if there was any other wildlife species using these passes. Besides lynx, they recorded 10 other species, including brown bear and wolf. All species were using the same passes as people, but mostly during the night, when people were not present there. Apart from lynx Maks, no other lynx was recorded crossing the highway. That shows his exceptional behavior, and justifies the need of improving the highway with designated wildlife pass, so other lynx will dare to cross, too.