Daniel Wadleigh has hunted and fished in the Maine woods almost since he learned how to walk, but he was still stunned by what he saw Friday night.
The 31-year-old Belgrade resident was driving on Route 6 in Sandwich Academy Grant Township, between Jackman and Rockwood, scouting fishing locations for the weekend, when he came upon “these two things in the road,” he said.
“I didn’t know what they were. Then I said, ‘Wait a minute. I think those are lynx.’ I pretty much just slammed on the brakes and came to a halt,” Wadleigh said. “I figured they would see me and run. But they stayed right where they were.”
The two Canada lynx were in something of a showdown right alongside the road. So engrossed were they in their dispute that they stayed as Wadleigh first saw them, almost nose to nose and howling at one another, long enough for him to shoot a half-dozen pictures and almost a minute of video with his cellphone camera.
As Wadleigh shot video, the two separated slightly and then sat down, but kept up the noise until Wadleigh started his Dodge Ram pickup truck.
It was, Wadleigh said, a stunning display.
“I’ve seen bobcats here and there. I have seen one or two lynx running through the woods, but I have never, ever seen anything like that,” he said.
A regional biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife based in Sidney, Kendall Martin, said that what Wadleigh saw was actually fairly common in that area of Somerset County.
Categorized as federally threatened and as a state species of special concern, the Canada lynx is a forest-dwelling cat common to northern latitudes where deep snow and spruce/fir forest are common. They often are found in the spruce and fir flats of Aroostook and Piscataquis counties, and northern Penobscot, Somerset, Franklin and Oxford counties, where snow depths are often the highest in the state, according to a webpage devoted to them at maine.gov.
Martin, who reviewed the video on Wadleigh’s cellphone when the latter came to his office Tuesday, said the two lynx were likely engaging in the territoriality lynx are known for. Such behavior is common this time of year, when lynx begin to rear their young.
“It could have been just general territoriality or two males or a female asserting dominance,” Martin said. “Without much context, it is hard to see, but it is pretty normal for a lynx to be very vocal without a lot of displays of aggression.”
“They are not quite as friendly as humans passing on the street,” he said. “It might have been them saying, ‘Hey, I am in the area now.’ ”
Wadleigh loves having seen the wild cats.
“It’s just pure amazement to me that I was able to get that video and happen to be in the right place at the right time, all while being in one of my favorite places,” he said. “I mean, can it get any cooler than that?”