Mountain lion takes shelter at Basin Electric transmission line construction site

A mountain lion peers from inside a transmission structure.

A mountain lion peers from inside the transmission structure.

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:


  1. Please have professionals come in to ‘relocate’ him rather than kill him because you all are in his territory. Please do the RIGHT thing!

  2. basinelectric says:

    Thanks for your comment, and concern, Betsy!

    The contractors unloaded their materials while being very careful not to disturb the animal, then left the site.

    It’s Basin Electric’s standard practice to take great care not to disturb wildlife at or around worksites. In the rare event that an animal doesn’t leave the worksite, the employees on location will contact Environmental Services and Property & Right of Way staff at Headquarters, who will then contact the proper authorities to address the situation.

    After the mountain lion left the site on its own, Environmental staff reported the sighting to a North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist who is monitoring mountain lion populations in western North Dakota.

  3. This is such a cool photo! I’m glad it wasn’t me lol. Thanks for letting it go on it’s merry way!


  1. […] Some contractors were a bit startled to discover what had taken shelter in their work overnight. […]

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