Paul Telehey, Basin Electric construction coordinator II, has seen his fair share of animals visiting construction sites located in remote areas, but what he heard Jan. 19 from a project site in the North Dakota Badlands was a first.
Basin Electric is building a stretch of transmission line between the Patent Gate to Kummer Ridge substations as part of the Antelope Valley Station to Neset Transmission Project in western North Dakota.
Contractors were visiting a section of the project about 25 miles east of Watford City, ND, when someone noticed fresh animal tracks that were different from what they normally see on site.
“We get critters all the time that will use our structures for quick hideaways. We occasionally get skunks and will have rabbits running in and out, so we bang on the structures before we start moving them and they get out,” Telehey says.
In this case, however, the tracks appeared to be made by a large feline and lead into a hollow 345-kV transmission pole lying on the ground. The contractors photographed inside the dark structure, “and that (a large feline) is what it was,” Telehey says.
The mountain lion, its eyes glowing in the camera flash, had taken refuge inside the large hollow pole. The contractors left the site upon the discovery and returned later in the day to find the big cat gone.
“Working in different areas where we build things, you always look at what type of animal activity you might have,” Telehey says. “Guys have seen mountain lion tracks here and there but this was the first encounter we’ve had like this. It was a surprise.”
Read about other critters that have turned up at Basin Electric facilities: