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Agencies work together as team to rehab and release bobcat


This one-year-old bobcat, nicknamed “Puzzle” by the team at Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, was flown back to Powell River and released on Friday, April 20.

Puzzle was separated from her mother and siblings by dogs in the Powell River area last year. BC SPCA was alerted and called Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society (PROWLS) as she sat howling loudly on top of a fence.

Northern Lights founders Angelika and Peter Langen and volunteers at their rehabilitation facility provided care for the kitten for the past year. By the time she had been crated and flown back to Powell River, Puzzle repeatedly demonstrated she was able to successfully hunt for live prey and that she could survive if returned to the wild in the Tin Hat Mountain region. She now weighs 30 pounds, can pounce and bring down prey several times her size if necessary, and is able to skillfully hunt rabbits, rodents and birds to survive.

Solitary, elusive and normally a quiet animal, Puzzle sounded like a tiger as she impatiently waited in her crate for the door to freedom to open. She was transported in the back of BC Conservation Officer Service officer Andrew Anaka’s truck, accompanied by WildSafeBC education officer Francine Ulmer and followed by the Langens, PROWLS president Merrilee Prior, who sent Puzzle up to Smithers last summer, courtesy of Pacific Coastal Airlines, and photographer Michelle Pennell.

BC SPCA Powell River and District Branch employee Tara  Daniels was unable to attend the release event.

Because of aggressive trapping due to the fashion popularity of their fur pelts, bobcats were thought to be heading for extinction in the 1970s. With the introduction of stricter trapping regulations, numbers are believed to be stable in most their original habitats.

Effort from many individuals is required to ensure the survival of rescued members of Powell River’s neighbouring wild kingdom. Puzzle’s story is a prime example of how teamwork can make a dream work.

by Lesley Armstrong, photo by Michelle Pennell