Another bobcat saved

On Feb. 15, an Iron Range landowner was enjoying new photos downloaded from a trail camera on his property and got a shock. "I have trail cameras set up around the Range," he wrote in an email to Wildwoods. "Each time I look ... to see what pictu...

Wildwoods coordinated the rescue of this bobcat who had been caught by a snare trap. He is pictured here on Feb. 17 at Dougherty Veterinary Clinic before the snare was cut off. (Photo by Trudy Vrieze)

On Feb. 15, an Iron Range landowner was enjoying new photos downloaded from a trail camera on his property and got a shock.

"I have trail cameras set up around the Range," he wrote in an email to Wildwoods. "Each time I look ... to see what pictures I have gotten, it's as exciting as opening a Christmas present, but what I saw on one of my trail cameras ... was upsetting to me and many others. I noticed immediately I had photographed a bobcat with a snare around its midsection."

Determined to provide medical aid to the suffering animal, plans were made to catch the bobcat and get it to a vet for treatment. Wildwoods was contacted and agreed to help. News spread quickly among Wildwoods friends that there was another bobcat rescue attempt in progress.

The next morning, Feb. 16, the landowner's friend went to the site where the bobcat had been photographed and set up a live trap, a cage in which the doors close once the animal is inside and trips a pan baited with fresh meat. They checked it several times that day with no luck.

"There are many animals that visit this particular trail camera site," the landowner wrote. "The chances were pretty slim that we would catch the injured bobcat on the first attempt.


"About 8 p.m., my daughter and I went to check the trap again. With a dim flashlight and outside temperatures hovering at 20 below zero, she and I headed down the wooded trail to the site. This time the trap was occupied, but was it the right animal?

"Miraculously, we had success the first time. We had the bobcat with the embedded snare. Immediately I sent a text message and the news spread."

"It is THE kitty, and he/she is not pleased at all," Wildwoods announced on its Facebook page Feb. 16. "The wound smells very bad, but the bobcat with the snare around the neck that we got last year smelled awful, too!"

That evening the rescuers and the bobcat headed south toward Duluth while Wildwoods arranged a vet appointment for the next day. The bobcat would get the medical attention it needed.

On Feb. 17, the bobcat and rescuers drove to Dougherty Veterinary Clinic in Duluth where Dr. Kelly Powell examined him. The wounds were quite smelly, a sign of infection and dead flesh. Although injured, he was still far too wild to be examined and treated without sedation, so he was given an injection from a syringe inserted into the cage on a long pole.

When he finally went to sleep, the bobcat was moved from the kennel onto an exam table. He received general anesthesia while Dr. Powell shaved around the wound to expose the damage and reveal the snare embedded in the bobcat's flesh. The snare was then cut away and the deep wounds and damaged tissues were cleansed. He could not have survived long with the snare cutting into both of his flanks. Though quite nasty-looking, the wounds didn't involve muscle or other major structures.

The bobcat had broken both upper canine teeth, probably while trying to chew through the line which anchored the trap. Animal dental experts later assured that this would not prevent him from surviving in the wild.

The cat was given a shot of a long-lasting antibiotic, returned to his kennel and allowed to wake up.


The next morning, Feb. 18, he was awake and hungry. Wildwoods put out a call for bobcat food. Anyone with freezer-burned wild game killed without lead-bullet contamination was invited to donate to the bobcat's dinner plate. In the first hours after surgery, he had two cans of dog food and five venison steaks. Those broken teeth were not a problem.

Recovery has gone well for this guy. Because of the severity of his wounds, he will need 4-6 weeks of eating and healing time before release. Wildwoods is short on space for a cat this big, so they contacted another wild animal rehabilitation organization named Wild and Free, in Garrison, Minn., which has indoor and outdoor enclosures with the space the animal needs.

Wild and Free expects to transfer the bobcat back to Wildwoods for release to his home territory within a few weeks.

Like all traps, snares are indiscriminate and catch both intended and unintended victims, including pets like dogs, often with fatal consequences. Snares are meant to cause quick death by strangulation. If an animal is caught by another body part, that will not happen. The snare can cause severe damage, suffering and eventual death.

Snare trapping is legal in Minnesota, but banned in 20 other states. Minnesotans have the opportunity to speak up about this practice. For more information go to .

John Jordan is a volunteer at Wildwoods. He is also an RN who lives in Duluth with the photographer Trudy Vrieze and a clowder of rescue cats.

Wildwoods is a 501(c)(3) wildlife rehabilitation organization in Duluth. The writers are volunteers at Wildwoods and/or experts in their fields. For information on how you can help wildlife, including volunteer opportunities, visit or call (218) 491-3604.

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