Young bobcat released into the wild after recovering at Cornell

The Cornell Wildlife Health Center and Cornell University Hospital for Animals both helped treat a young male bobcat injured in a car accident. He has been released near his original home range.

Dr. Christina McCullough (left) and Dr. Sara Childs-Sanford prepare the bobcat for an exam. Photo provided.

According to a release from Cornell, a witness to the accident contacted veterinarians at Cornell’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center, who admitted the bobcat after he was hit by a car in Lansing.

When he arrived, the bobcat was in critical condition and required several days of care to stabilize his condition and allow bleeding in his lungs to resolve, Cornell says. He was also diagnosed with a severely fractured humerus (a bone in the forelimb) and a hip that had been moved far out of the joint.

Staff at the Wildlife Health Center brought in Dr. Ursula Krotscheck, the chief of small animal surgery at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, to evaluate the bobcat and the radiographs of his injured forelimb. She determined he would need a metal plate to bring together the pieces of bone and give him the best chance of healing.

The bobcat’s severely fractured humerus before treatment.

She donated time, equipment, and expertise to perform a “grueling” surgical procedure, “challenged by anatomy that was different from her domestic patients and by a fracture that was extremely difficult to repair,” Cornell says. Dr. Krotscheck let the bobcat rest for a few days before doing another surgical procedure to address his severely dislocated hip.

After several days of care and “aggressive pain control,” WHC veterinarians transferred the bobcat to licensed wildlife rehabilitator Cindy Page, who housed him in a small area at first to restrict his activity and allow the bones to heal.

Cornell says after ten weeks of rest and healing, a new round of radiographs at the Wildlife Health Center were “stunning,” with “a beautifully healed fracture with perfect alignment. An exam showed good range of motion of the injured hip as well. He had grown, gained weight and was in excellent condition.”

WHC officials decided the bobcat could be released the next day, and with the help of Todd Bittner, director of natural areas for the Cornell Botanic Gardens, they selected “a large area near his original home range.”

A group of those who’d been involved in the bobcat’s care went along on Friday, July 28th as he was transported in the large dog crate he’d been recovering in. At noon, the door of his crate was opened facing a large, sunny meadow. He was apprehensive and unsure, but after some coaxing and a gentle tipping of the crate, “he finally made a break for it — shooting out of the carrier across the meadow toward a dense forest.”

The video below, courtesy of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, shows some of the young bobcat’s treatment and his release. “Throughout his treatment, he remained fierce and wild,” says Cornell.

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