Apr 7, 2014

Injured bobcat rescue

This morning, we received a call from a security guard at the Diageo Chateau & Estate winery located near Paicines, CA. Workers had just observed an adult bobcat limping across the highway that runs through the property. It was last seen lying in tall grass near a row of settling ponds. 

Duane and Rebecca responded quickly, but when they arrived, the cat was gone. 

The two split up and scoured the area, walking the perimeter of the ponds and using binoculars to scan the fields. Nothing.

They decided to expand their search to an area beyond the ponds. 

As they were driving towards the open field, they spotted movement in a shaded area - it was the bobcat, walking unsteadily in their direction, wobbling, with its left leg held awkwardly.

They slowly backed up the truck out of the cat's vision in order to plan their next move.

Planning is one of the most critical steps in wildlife capture, as it is in the planning that responders, together, discuss potential risks.

WES responders are trained to think through capture plans using something called the Operational Risk Management (ORM) process - click HERE to see how it's used in the Coast Guard. 

Through the 7-stage ORM process, rescuers identify potential risks and the options they have to heighten safety.

Not knowing, for sure, how mobile the cat would be when pursued, an open gate at one corner of the field was cause for concern. The team decided to try and drive past the cat to cut off that potential exit.

They approached the spot where they'd last seen the cat. It had moved a few yards and was drinking from a puddle of water. It didn't seem to notice the truck as it rolled by.

Once out of sight, the two grabbed their nets and made their advance to the cat's last location, using the landscape to hide their approach. 

All of a sudden, the bobcat appeared from behind a mound - it was headed back toward the shade - directly toward Duane and Rebecca. All three stopped in their tracks - motionless. 

Duane was closest and would be the one to make the first attempt. His heart was racing but he was waiting for the cat to turn its stare before lunging. If not, he'd make the first move as he'd have an advantage - action beats reaction, every time. 

The cat started to turn away and move. He netted it with a large hoop net with a deep sock. The two worked together to contain the cat in the net, then transfer it into an animal carrier. Check out the rescue video:

The bobcat was rushed to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (WCSV) in San Jose where it would receive a thorough examination.

Image courtesy of WCSV.

The adult male bobcat was severely emaciated, weighing only 8 pounds, and radiographs revealed a severe fracture of his left hip. 

The bobcat was weak, but stood a chance.

Adobe Animal Hospital was contacted for a second opinion. After reviewing the digital radiographs, they believed they could repair the hip if they could get the cat stabilized enough for surgery. 

The bobcat was immediately transferred to Adobe where it would receive intensive care and possibly a blood transfusion.

UPDATE 4-8-14: Sadly, the bobcat was too weak and could not be stabilized - its body started to shut down. It was allowed to go in a deep sleep.