A bobcat that was hit by a car on C-470 the morning of Sept. 23 should make a full recovery, said the doctor who performed three hours of surgery on the animal.
Dr. Dan Brod, the doctor who treated the 8-month-old female at Deer Creek Animal Hospital in South Jeffco, said the surgery went well, but the young feline will need some rest and recovery time.
"If the cat does way too much too soon, that would be bad," Brod said. "The cat is semi-confined, and we're taking our time."
The bobcat was hit about 8 a.m. Sept. 23 on C-470 north of Morrison Road, according to Holly Gilbertson of Lakewood Animal Control. A motorist called authorities, and Lakewood Animal Control was dispatched just before 8:30 a.m., arriving at 8:40.
A Jefferson County Animal Control officer used a catch-pole to snare the bobcat, which was turned over to Lakewood Animal Control, according to Jacki Kelley, spokesperson for Jeffco Animal Control. The Colorado Division of Wildlife was called when it became clear that the animal was a bobcat, and it was taken to Deer Creek Animal Hospital.
Brod said that Deer Creek — which he co-founded in 1984 — has been doing volunteer work for the DOW for more than 20 years and has extensive experience treating wildlife. Brod said no entity would be billed for the surgery. If a pet were brought in for a similar procedure, it would cost thousands of dollars, he said.
The bobcat was one of two hit that morning on C-470; the other was found dead.
Brod said both of the surviving bobcat's femurs were fractured. One of the legs was fractured close to the joint, and required a screw and pin. The other femur was broken halfway between the hip and the knee joint, and required several wires and a pin.
The bobcat was taken to a rehabilitation clinic for wildlife after the surgery. Brod said the plan is to keep the animal there for six to eight weeks and bring it back to Deer Creek for an X-ray to see how the bones are healing. If the animal has sufficiently healed, it will be released back into the wild.
Brod said that rehabbing the animal will not be easy.
"You can't just reach in and pick it up," Brod said. "We have to give it the time to heal on its own. What I did was the easy part. The hard part is the rehabber's part. The whole goal is to return the animal back to the wild."
Brod said the rehab specialist must be careful not to have too much contact with the bobcat, lest it become tame. He's confident, however, that the process will be successful.
"We would have put her to sleep if we thought it couldn't go back to the wild," Brod said.
Brod and Gilberston both said bobcats are pretty rare in this area.
"We've had bear in Lakewood, we've had mountain lion in Lakewood, we now have bobcat in Lakewood," Gilbertson said. "We're part of their territory. But this is not a common or usual circumstance. This is the first bobcat call that I know of for Lakewood."
Brod said he last worked with a bobcat about six years ago, and that a Division of Wildlife officer who brought the bobcat to the hospital said he sees four to six per year.
"But I've lived in the foothills for 20-plus years, and I've only seen them twice," Brod said. "All of us see deer, raccoons and elk. Mountain lions are pretty rare, and bobcats are less obvious than that."
Bobcats' penchant for privacy is the main reason, Brod said.
"I think because as a whole they're very seclusive, we don't see a lot of them," Brod said. "I think they're pretty street smart."
He noted that the bobcats’ mother was not seen.
"There might have been a mother around, or they somehow got disoriented," Brod said. "But they're pretty close (in age) to be hunting on their own."
Bobcats don't typically hunt in packs or pairs, but they were together, which might mean they're still a bit immature, Brod said.
"But it wouldn't have been too much longer before they were on their own."