Silverton resident Dave Fiddler has been driving between Silverton and Durango for 26 years, but unlike other commuters, he never sees anything interesting – a car crash, scenic wildlife or an impressive avalanche.
“I’m always the guy who doesn’t drive up on the car crash, doesn’t see the interesting animals on the road,” he said. “Maybe my luck is changing this year.”
Fiddler was driving north on Molas Pass about 10 a.m. Thursday when he saw a lynx cross U.S. Highway 550. He grabbed his cellphone and took video of the tuft-eared feline meander across the road in front of his Subaru Outback.
“I’ve seen a mountain lion; tons of bears; elk, obviously; moose,” he said. “I live up here in Silverton, so we see a lot of stuff, but I’ve never seen a lynx.”
Fiddler, a captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, said he saw movement on the left side of the road as he rounded a corner near Little Molas Lake. He slowed, and saw the lynx slide down from the snowy mountainside and cross the highway.
“My phone was sitting right there,” he said. “I’m actually pretty surprised I thought about it because I usually don’t. I usually just kind of gawk at it like a dork. And then when it’s gone, I go, ‘Damn! I should have taken a picture.’”
It is not the first lynx sighting this winter in the San Juan Mountains.
Several videos turned up in December on social media showing a lynx amble across ski runs at Purgatory Resort while stunned onlookers stopped to take it in. The lynx appeared somewhat lethargic and is believed to be the same one that was found dead a few weeks later in the area.
Wildlife officials identified it as an 11½-year-old male born in Telluride that was fitted with a tracking collar. A necropsy found a tumor in his throat that prevented him from eating.
Another motorist photographed two lynx walking together in December on Molas Pass.
Lynx were reintroduced into Colorado in 1999. Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimate at least 150 to 250 lynx live in the state.