(Do Not) Put a Bobcat in Your Trunk
Last week’s wildlife rescue class taught by some of Peace River Wildlife Center’s rescue volunteers was a rousing success and not a moment too soon. Life has indeed been a little wild lately at PRWC. We recently admitted an injured adult male bobcat that had been hit by a car. The gentleman traveling in the car behind the one that hit the wayward feline saw the cat fly six feet in the air. When it landed on the road, he knew it would get hit again if he didn’t act quickly. He scooped up the unconscious cat, loaded it into his trunk, and made a bee line to PRWC. Of course, the cat was awake by the time he arrived, so our intrepid rehabber, Cara Brown, had to wrestle the unhappy cat out of the trunk and into a large dog kennel.
While we applaud this rescuer’s bravado, we cannot condone his actions. He could have been seriously hurt. Any mammal should be considered a possible rabies vector species and handled only by trained and vaccinated personnel. This rule is for the protection of the people involved as well as the animal. Had this man been scratched or bitten, even inadvertently, the bobcat would have to have been euthanized so it could be tested for rabies. And the man would have had to get a painful and expensive series of injections.
If anyone sees an injured mammal and wants to remove it from its immediate environment due to concerns about its safety, the best course of action is to call Charlotte County Animal Control at 941-833-5690 or PRWC at 941-637-3830. Of course, it can take a while for either party to get to a remote location. The next best plan would be to use gloves or a towel to move the animal so that there is no direct contact with skin. Contain the animal if at all possible—place it into a box or put a laundry hamper or trash can over it. If you cannot load it into your car and bring it to PRWC (or your nearest wildlife rehabilitator), place it in a dark, quiet location with a moderate temperature—not too hot or too cold, until assistance arrives. It is our hope that with many more rescue volunteers, PRWC’s response time can be dramatically reduced.
Now that the public service portion of this article is over—how cool was that!?! Esso (Exxon) used to promise to put a tiger in your tank if you used their gas. This guy took that a bit literally when he put a bobcat in his trunk. I don’t know if it had much of an effect on his car’s acceleration, but it sure increased the responsiveness of the staff at PRWC and energized everyone who has been following the story on our Facebook page. The bobcat ended up with some superficial scrapes and bruises. He had minor head trauma that resolved fairly quickly—hence the attempt to leap out of the car trunk. He does have a broken jaw that had an external fixation appliance applied at a local veterinarian’s office and the cat is recovering off exhibit at the Wildlife Center of Venice, a facility with better caging for a large, strong mammal like a bobcat. The cat’s mental state appears to be completely normal now—he snarls and lunges at his caretakers.
As soon as his jaw has healed the bobcat will be released back into the area where he was found, near the site of his capture. Just not back into the middle of the road. If cats really do have nine lives, this guy has eight left and we would like to see him live them out calmly and quietly, well away from traffic.
by- Robin Jenkins, DVM