Reuters - Tue, 09 Feb 10:14:00 2010
A rare visitor has made a first-hand inspection of the Whistler Sliding Centre when a lynx was spotted prowling in trees near the start area.
The distinctive North American wildcat, known for its tufted ears, surprised sliders taking part in an unofficial luge training session and conservation officers were called in to assess whether it posed any danger.
"The lynx was seen in trees near the start and we had to call in experts as a precaution," John Gibson, spokesman for the Whistler Sliding Centre, told Reuters.
"The conservation officer decided that it posed no threat and the sliders were able to continue."
Wild lynx, and the much larger and more ferocious cougar, live in the forests and mountains surrounding Whistler but are shy, elusive and are rarely spotted, Gibson said.
"I've been here two years and it's only the second time I've seen a lynx," he said, adding that one section of the track is named "lynx" after officials spotted one loitering last year.
Black bears are also common summer visitors to the area surrounding the Sliding Centre, which will host luge, skeleton and bobsleigh.
"They should all be hibernating now," added Gibson. "So hopefully we shouldn't be getting any visits from them."
The first Olympics sliding events begin on Saturday with the fist and second runs of the men's luge singles.
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