Returned to the Wild
year three bobcats were placed with a volunteer who specializes
in predators – coyotes and bobcats. The day to day care for
many months paid off, and she was ready to release three very
healthy, perfect bobcats.
I enter the
story at this point. I received a phone call several weeks ago,
telling me she needed a large, remote bobcat friendly
environment to release these gorgeous cats. I knew the perfect
location! It was 7,500 acres of timber, meadows and prairie
bordered by a river. We agreed on a date to "catch" these guys
and to transport them. I was so honored and excited to have this
privilege. I even took my 17 year old son out of school for the
day to come along and help. He is still thanking me and talking
about that experience.)
around 10 am, and after some discussion of how we would
accomplish getting these cats into the animal carriers with as
little stress and danger to the cats and ourselves as possible,
we ultimately decided on a mild tranquilizer injected into some
raw meat. I think we we're all in agreement that we wanted
these cats as calm as possible for their 1 1/2 hour drive,
(especially me the driver).
rehabber entered the pen, carrying a big stick, 2 carriers and 2
pieces of meat, all the while mindful of where the cats were in
the pen and negotiating the ice that was everywhere.
carriers were in place, she was able to bait one with meat and
the large male went right in. I guess hunger prevailed over
good sense and he was safely locked inside. Next it was his
sister’s turn. She was not so easily convinced. We eventually
left her alone with Michael Sandy, another volunteer, who was
there to help. The rest of us, including my son, decided to try
to capture the other young male in a separate pen.
the surrogate mom bravely entered the "lions den" so to speak
and placed herself strategically behind the carrier and in front
of the cat. He would enter the crate, and then when she would
reach forward to close the door, she would slip on the ice, the
door would bounce off his backside and he would once again be on
the ceiling of his cage! It took several attempts, but success
at last! Eventually the embattled rehabber carried her prize
outside the cage and looked up and stated, "That's enough
adrenaline for one day!" I had to agree.
at the other cage, Michael was still attempting to gain some
progress with sister cat. Needless to say she was leading him
around on a wild chase. It was as if she was saying, "Ha-Ha
catch me if you can." After about 15 minutes of this she
finally went into a carrier and was safely secured.
them into the car and discussed the best way to release them
once we arrived at our location. We agreed that putting some
meat out for them would be in the best interest of the cats
until they got acclimated to their new home. We left and headed
north with a car full of bobcats.
Now I have
to be honest. I had thoughts of "what if these guys manage to
get loose?" I’d already decided if they broke free I was
stopping right in the middle of I-70 and running for my life,
and they could do whatever they wanted to the car! Fortunately
nothing so dramatic happened.
We were on
the road for about 30 minutes when my son said, "Mom I am
starving!" Oh Lord. Is it a good idea to eat food in a car full
of bobcats? I wasn't sure, but it didn't seem too smart. Well
hunger prevailed over good sense, much like the male bobcat. I
just prayed bobcats don't like Wendy's. Once again no
home after getting lost for 30 minutes when we took a wrong turn
out of Wendy's parking lot. We arrived home and decided to thaw
the meat sent home with us for the cats. Now my son, bless his
heart, raided our freezer and had enough meat to feed 3 grown
mountain lions. I tried to tell him that it was enough. He was
so funny, I just let him go. We left home and arrived at our
the carriers up in a row, placed the meat on the ground in front
of them, and let them smell it and see it before opening the
door open was for the large male; now this is a cat with
attitude! He sauntered (yes, it was a saunter) out of that
crate as if to say, "I dare you to stop me." He walked right by
me, looked over his shoulder once and then trotted off to the
river. I nicknamed him "Prince of the Forest." He definitely
had that princely attitude.
Then it was
the littlest one’s turn. We opened his door, and he slinked
out, (definitely a slink). No eye contact for this guy; he
seemed to be thinking, “If I get low enough to the ground and I
get to those trees before they see me, I'm outta’ here.” He
trotted into the woods and, my goodness, you should have seen
him. He was like a kid in a candy store! He was running from
tree to tree, to bush to grass, smelling and looking. Talk
about sensory overload. He was so sweet.
Now it was
little sister’s turn, little Miss Diva of the cat world. She
refused to come out of her carrier. We waited, we waited some
more! Finally my son in his wisdom, picked up the crate and
shook it. You could see the light bulb come on. That cat shot
out of that carrier as if she'd been shot from a cannon!
Straight to the woods and gone! We all kind of laughed over
to walk down to the River to see if we could spot "Prince." Sure
enough, he had slid (none too gracefully from how it appeared)
down the bank to the icy river below and crossed to the other
side. He was approximately a 1/4 mile away from the release
We heard a
noise to our left and "Slinky" was rambling around in the
woods. He hadn't mastered the Silent Catwalk yet, or perhaps he
didn't care! "Diva" was not seen again.
feeling warm and happy inside. A good deed had been done.
Mother Nature had three of her own back again.
get any better than this!
Story by Shelly
Cox, FOLNC Volunteer.
Photo Credits: Michael Sandy, FOLNC Volnteer