Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Driving Through the WIlderness

Was that a cat? A big cat? A WILDCAT?

We're driving up the Alaska Highway in the Yukon. And because a road runs through it, we forget this is wilderness. So it's possible I saw a wildcat. Earlier today, we saw a porcupine. Roadside. A porcupine!

And just now, off to my left, on a tall roadside bank, I see a cat. A big cat. Not a feral house cat, but a big wild cat. I'm scratching my head because I can't locate in my memory banks what wildcat wears mottled, shaggy fur and stands very long and tall. Allen and I rattle off the common wildcats -- cougars, mountain lions, pumas, bobcats, tigers, lions -- and dismiss all possibilities.

What did I see?

I don't doubt it's a wildcat. The collection of wild animals we've seen in this wilderness (with a road running through it) would make zookkeepers salivate: nearly two dozen black bear, stone sheep (even a baby), wild wood buffalo (perhaps 20 of them), moose, caribou, mule deer and half a dozen or more feral horses.

I now I have this mystery. But, it's easy to solve, because here in Teslin, Yukon, where we've stayed for the night in the parking lot of the Yukon Motel, there's a free wildife museum which, I imagine, documents all the wildlife in the Yukon. Even this wildcat. So I go in.

And I find (after passing through tons of souvenirs) an amazing display of taxidermied wildlife. Things we might see in the Yukon: polar bears, black bears, Arctic fox, Arctic wolves, grizzlies, mule deer, musk ox, dall sheep, mountain goats, beavers, Alaskan moose, timber wolves. And there, nearly at the end of the display is MY CAT! It's a Yukon Lynx.

I saw a lynx. In the wild. Alongside this road that cuts through the wild.

And I wonder what roadside attraction we'll see today ...

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