A call comes in at 6:15 am from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s department: A bus driver named Mary who drives for Independent Day School saw a bobcat in the middle of Linebaugh Av. near Nixon Road. She was able to nudge the cat out of the middle of the road into the bike lane, but could not get the bobcat to step up onto the curb. Chris and Carole raced to the scene with nets and carriers.
By the time they arrive dawn was breaking and Chris spotted the bobcat laying on the curb, with her head up, watching oncoming traffic whiz past her just inches away. Carole pulled the van up to block traffic in the right lane, turned on the flashers and then circled around the outside of the van while Chris crept closer on the curb side. The bobcat stood and glanced around at her options. It looked like she was going to dive under the van and in morning rush hour traffic that would surely mean her death as the duo could only approach her from the wrong side if that happened.
Carole lunged toward the bobcat in an attempt to cause her to back into the field rather than into traffic and much to both her and Chris’ amazement the bobcat sprinted across the field on three legs. Rescuers reasoned that they could trap her against the fence at the far end of the field but the bobcat had a better plan…run like mad for the fence but then take a hard right, jump into the creek to throw her pursuers off the track and then dash off through the heavy undergrowth.
Since the Rescuers didn’t see her come out the other side of the creek, Chris headed across and up the far bank while Carole dragged the bottom of the creek with her net in case the bobcat had not been able to swim. The temperature was 52 degrees and the water was bone chillingly cold. Chris and Carole beat the bushes around a large retention pond, and Chris discovered a recent bird kill. There was a well worn path that lead to the area from the road, so it was clear that this bobcat has made this trek across 6 lanes of traffic for a long time.
After circling the lake twice Carole was about to suggest they go home, dress in dry clothes and come back with humane traps and a bigger search force, when Chris called out that he found the bobcat. She had crawled under a pad of reeds next to the pond. When they tried to net her she took off into the water again, Chris dove in after her and managed to net her. For that he gets to name her.
She was then transported to Ehrlich Road Animal Hospital where Dr. Wynn met them to take over in her diagnosis and care. She had an old wound on her side that was raw and exposed. She had scraped her nose during the impact and x-rays showed that her left rear leg was broken in such a way that traditional pinning would not be sufficient to repair the damage, due to her wild nature and impulse to chew her leg off, rather than have an exterior plate to secure the pins. Dr. Wynn tested her for AIDS to make sure she would be a candidate for release and then called Florida Veterinary Services to ask if they could get her in for major surgery.