Monday March 26, 2012

GUILFORD -- A Connecticut man escaped severe injury Sunday after attempting to transport an injured bobcat.

According to Vermont Fish and Game Warden Kelly Price, the animal was hit by a vehicle along I-91 at about 10:30 a.m., and when he went to search for it, the bobcat was nowhere to be found.

"As I’m about to leave I get a call from dispatch who says a man from Connecticut had picked up the bobcat and took it to the Guilford Welcome Center," Price said.

At the center, he said the 25-pound male bobcat was partially covered by a sheet and was laying in the back seat of the man’s sedan.

"It looked like it had a broken back, leg and possibly broken hips," he said.

Price said he couldn’t believe the man had driven with the animal and proceeded to explain to him all the dangers.

"If the animal had woken up or became more animated that cat would have gone bonkers on him," Price said. "They’re extremely powerful animals. He could easily have been clawed, bitten and severely injured all while he’s driving, possibly hurting someone else. It could have been a bad scenario."

While Price waited for a veterinarian from the Vermont-New Hampshire Veterinary Clinic in Dummerston and members of the Vermont State Police to assist him, the animal became more animated.

"It started biting the seats," he said. "It was annoyed, in a lot of pain and not happy to be in there."

Price said the only way to safely administer a sedative to the bobcat was to incapacitate it with the use of a hand-held Tazer.

"We cracked the rear-window and were able to taze the bobcat and the veterinarian gave it the sedative," he said.

Once they saw the nature of the bobcat’s injuries it was easy to tell there was no way it could be rehabilitated and needed to be euthanized.

The animal was placed in Price’s vehicle and driven to another location away from the welcome center so that the public didn’t have to witness it, Price said.

According to Price, the bobcat population is very healthy in and around the towns of Guilford and Vernon and he urged everyone not to approach or handle any wild animal.

While the animals may appear to be cute and harmless, they can have powerful talons, teeth, legs and claws. They can be unpredictable, especially when injured or protecting babies.

If you find an injured animal, maintain a safe distance and contact the authorities.

"You’re putting yourself and others at significant risk of injury," he said.

Josh Stilts can be reached at jstilts@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.