Gallagher the bobcat is once again roaming B.C.’s wilderness.
On Saturday, the female juvenile bobcat was released in the South Okanagan following nearly five months of captivity to mend a broken leg.
The year-old predator was struck by a vehicle near Gallagher Lake, between Penticton and Oliver, and suffered a severe fracture of her right hind leg.
It’s believed the bobcat was hit between mid-to-late February.
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According to BC Wildlife Park officials, a good Samaritan picked up the injured bobcat.
The bobcat was then brought to Kamloops and the park’s Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre for treatment.
“When she came in, she had a large laceration (a large cut) to her leg. So we addressed that initially, but she couldn’t walk on her leg at all,” BC Wildlife Park animal care supervisor Tracy Reynolds told CFJC of Kamloops in March.
Nicknamed Gallagher, the bobcat had to undergo two surgeries. The first surgery, which took place at Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Langley, involved placing a metal plate in the leg to stabilize it.
The second surgery removed the plate and screws.
Denstedt said transporting Gallagher from Kamloops to the South Okanagan for her release proved to be an easy ride.
“It was quiet during the drive, but she was quite angry at having to get into her crate this morning,” Denstedt told Global News just prior to the release north of Oliver.
“She was running away from us, and her back end looks great, so she’s nice and strong for release.”
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Denstedt said during captivity, Gallagher gained 3 kilograms. Prior to being released, her last weight was 6.2 kilograms.
For her release, Gallagher was placed inside a large metal crate. After the front gate was opened, the bobcat didn’t immediately bolt for the wild, staying put instead. After a few minutes, the back end of the crate was lifted up, forcing her out.
When she left, it was a blur as she quickly scampered away into the bush.
“It was quite a thrill,” said Dave Whitte of of SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre. “I was very surprised at how vocal it was; it sounded more like a mountain lion than a pussycat.
“It took off like a bat out of hell. It was absolutely beautiful…lovely colours. I think everybody here really enjoyed it.”
“And the fact that we can see an injured animal being released back to the wild is probably the greatest reward for everybody.”
Despite the quick disappearance, those who have cared for the spirited bobcat will be able to find out where she is. Gallagher has been outfitted with a radio-transmitting collar and ear tags.
“We’ll be very excited to see what she does after she’s released,” said Denstedt, “because most of the time we never know.”
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Researchers say there are plenty of other bobcats in the area, and knowing Gallagher’s habits could help them better plan for the future.
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out with this research: Habitat use and what their needs are,” said Ross Everatt, president of Southern Interior Land Trust.
Denstedt added that for the most part, the bobcat was left alone as much as possible to prevent human interaction.
“There were many times where things could have gone wrong,” said Denstedt.
“This is a very good success story. She’s healed up very nicely, so we’re very happy.”