PAWS Magazine

 

Issue 46, Summer 2000

 

Bobcat release

By Stewart Metz

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege and great pleasure to witness the release to the wild of a young, rehabbed bobcat. I knew I would see a beautiful animal set free; I didn’t realize at first that the episode would also crystallize for me more about the very mission of PAWS.

This bobcat had undergone rehab for nearly 3/4 of a year. Added to that was a ride (seemingly interminable due to the anticipation) of 2 hours to the release site, following by time nearly standing still as the cage door was opened and we watched from behind. Very cautiously, a gorgeous cat stuck its head out, retracted it, and then totally exited the cage. It seemed to be looking at us. No one was breathing.

In that frozen moment I thought about the mission—and controversy—that PAWS epitomizes. At that very moment efforts were underway to prevent tens of bobcats from being ensnared in leghold traps. In Pennsylvania, the Governor was actually contemplating facilitating killing even larger numbers of bobcats by re-instating the use of steel leghold traps and poisoned bait. Was a single bobcat, by comparison, worth all this time, money, and human effort?

Suddenly the cat darted towards the nearest thicket. As it drew near, it threw its hind legs impossibly high to bolt through the deep grass—and perhaps to show us what he was capable of. It stopped again at the thicket’s perimeter and, the photos show, stared back at us one last time. This cat didn’t know about traps, politics or numbers—for him, freedom was absolute—100%, that most perfect of statistics, and the one symbolizing PAWS’ mission, and reason to be, at least for me. Saving the life of ONE of Nature’s creatures is reason enough—and it is ‘one small step for Mankind’ towards (hopefully) a more compassionate treatment of animals in a new Millennium.

The bobcat turned, darted into the thicket, and was reclaimed by Nature. We all breathed, grinned with the awe of young children, and packed up to go home.

PAWS receives no government funding for our wildlife rehabilitation work. We rely entirely on donations from people who love wild animals - people just like you!



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