A bobcat struck by a police car on a canyon road in Laguna Beach earlier this year was released back into the wild Saturday after making a full recovery.
The 1-year-old bobcat darted from its kennel, paused for a moment, and then disappeared down into a remote canyon at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on Saturday, the Orange County Register reported.
“It’s almost anti-climactic, two seconds and he’s gone,” said Dr. Scott Weldy, the veterinarian who treated the cat for multiple injuries.
Thank you to @LagunaBeachPD and vet Dr. Weldy who released a rehabilitated bobcat into the backcountry of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park today. The cat had been hit by an officer on Laguna Canyon Road in February, and he was on hand to see the release. 😻 pic.twitter.com/bBJOr7Wzfz
— OC Parks (@OCParks) April 13, 2019
Laguna Beach Police Officer Thomas McGuire said at the time that he initially thought he’d hit someone’s pet when the cat darted in front of his vehicle Feb. 19.
McGuire said when he got out to check, he realized the animal was bigger than a house cat.
Weldy told the newspaper that X-rays showed head trauma and revealed that the cat had once been shot. Lead fragments in its hind legs near the ankles had healed over the bullets, the vet said.
The bobcat was fed chicken parts and baby chicks Saturday morning before being transported to the wilderness park, near where he was struck.
Returning him to the area where the animal was found is critical for its survival, Weldy said. The park has plenty of rabbits and squirrels, the favored diet of bobcats.
McGuire and a few other members of the Laguna Beach Police Department were on hand to witness the release.
“Hopefully, it all goes well and it’s almost like it never happened for him,” McGuire told the newspaper. “It’s nice to see him back where he belongs.”
The officer was responding to a welfare check in the area when his vehicle struck the animal, according to police.
“His quick actions led to saving the bobcat’s life,” the department said on Facebook.