Roadkill deserves little bit of dignity

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

You couldn’t miss the dead dog by the curb on County Road K last Saturday.

I eased over to the side of the road and got out. The canine’s fur was blowing in the breeze. The coloring looked like some kind of mixed-breed mutt, then I saw its face: Someone had cut down a coyote.

The eyes were fixed straight ahead, all of the teeth were bared.

I grabbed it by the tail and pulled it off the road.

I have this thing about roadkill. I feel kind of bad about the dead critter, the indignity of being smooshed by passing cars and trucks over and over again.

Now I’m not saying I do this regular-like. I’m not saying I’d fight the vultures off a carcass to get it off the road or block traffic or anything. I’m just saying every now and then when I see some dead animal on the highway I take a notion to put it off the road. Then the vultures can do what vultures do.

Nobody’s ever hassled me about it; one time two guys even wanted to help, but for an unexpected reason.

A few years ago I was heading down a long stretch of Southwestern highway when an animal carcass caught my eye. Now I’ve seen a lot of dead animals along the road but not a spotted one.

As I sped by I couldn’t tell what it was. I made two u-turns and pulled over near the thing. It was a dead bobcat, not a mark on it.

This cat was a magnificent thing, probably three or four times the size of a big house cat. The eyes were fixed and there were those teeth, big cat teeth. The paws were huge, each one easily as big as the palm of my hand. It was probably just easing across the road, got smacked and died.

I grabbed the cat by a paw and was dragging it off into the desert when I heard tires squeal on the highway. I looked up and saw a pickup truck make a u-turn and pull up behind my car.

Just when I was thinking I must’ve broken some kind of wildlife law or something, expecting a game warden to hop out, the doors flew open and two cowboys came running at me fast, holding their hats on their heads.

“Hey buddy, whatcha got there?” said the guy in the lead.

“It’s a bobcat,” I said. I wondered what these guys were up to.

“Woo-wee,” yelled the second one. “Lookit that thing. Can we have a look?”

“Sure,” I said. I realized this wasn’t about hassling or laws or anything, these guys were really interested in this dead bobcat.

“Is it a big one?” I asked.

“You bet,” said one.

“Biggest one I’ve ever seen,” said the other. “Can we have it?”

“Well sure,” I said. “It isn’t mine, I was just getting it off the road.”

One guy looked up at me and squinted, “You ain’t from around here, are you.”

“What are you going to do with it?” I asked.

“Skin it. We can get big coin for this pelt.” And with that they each grabbed a paw, ran back to the pickup truck, tossed the dead bobcat in back, hopped in and took off.

At least they weren’t going to eat it, I thought as I watched them fade off in the distance.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at:
blisscreeksw@yahoo.com