Bobcat is success story for wildlife shelter
As the door to the tarp-blanketed enclosure was pushed open she began to purr. From her perch in the rafters the bobcat watched our every move, her haunches tensing as we spoke.
“This is a very stressful environment for her,” said Connie Stevens, founder and executive director of Wildlife Shelter, Inc., as she motioned around the spacious, fenced enclosure that usually houses wounded hawks.
“Look at all this room she has, but she’s still caged,” said Stevens.
Four months after being brought to the shelter with a broken back, the bobcat was expected to be released into the wild near Sierraville late Wednesday afternoon. Stevens said that she believes the cat, which was most probably hit by a car, has healed enough to survive in the wild.
When the bobcat first arrived at the shelter in January she was handled as little as possible to minimize her movement and the risk of further injury to her back. Once she began to recover, the bobcat could still not be handled unless she was sedated.
“That little kitten, she truly believed she was a tiger,” Stevens said of the animal’s playful ferocity.
During the animal’s rehabilitation at the shelter, Stevens has tried to prepare the bobcat for her eventual return to the wild. Though the young cat has taken a four-month hiatus from her natural habitat, it is hoped that she will be able to survive when released.
To ensure that the cat will not become reliant on easy, human-prepared meals, live mice and rats are placed into a large metal tub to be caught, killed and eaten.
Stevens estimated that she spends as much as $200 a month on the rodents.
“For this to be a successful release, we’ve got to know that she can go for the kill,” she said.
Though cornering mice in a tub may not compare to chasing down game in the wild, Stevens said she believes the bobcat will have an easy enough transition from the shelter to the forest. While the animal may not survive as long as others that have never left their natural home, she said, it will have a longer life than it otherwise would have.
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