Bobcats are North America’s most abundant wild feline. Typically solitary critters, they prefer to den in caves, hollowed-out trees, and abandoned beaver lodges. But according to the Internet Center for Damage Management, they can also force themselves into the precarious confines of man-made structures. Such was the case last Tuesday, April 18 when a large bobcat cozied up to a car’s engine block near Portage, Wisconsin.
“My deputies are really good at solving problems but this one baffled them,” Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas said in an April 19 Facebook post. “We called in reinforcements with Conservation Warden Bryan Lockman.” Lukas released body cam footage that shows Lockman using a long catch pole to free the agitated wild cat from the car’s innards.
With the pole’s cable tight to the animal’s neck and his feet firmly rooted in the asphalt, Lockman swings the device out and away from the Toyota, toward the bed of his nearby patrol truck. The bobcat makes a heroic attempt to flee, but Lockman never loses control. “As you can see … Warden Lockman was a pro at getting the critter out and into the truck,” Sheriff Lukas wrote. The bobcat was later safely released into the wild.
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According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), bobcats have expanded their range in the Badger State in recent years. Once confined to the Northwoods, they now roam all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Using age and reproductive data from hunter-harvested bobcats dating back to 1983, the WDNR found that northern Wisconsin alone was home to some 3,800 bobcats during the fall of 2019. There are no official bobcat counts for in the southern region—where this incident took place—but the agency says that those populations are robust.