A baby bobcat, found burned and dazed during the tail end of a Northern California wildfire, has been rescued and treated at a local wildlife rehabilitation center, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Chips Fire, north of Lake Tahoe, has burned through more than 75,000 acres in the Plumas and Lassen national forests since the end of July. While patrolling and cleaning up the north end of the wildfire on Aug. 25, crews found a baby female bobcat covered in soot, wandering alone along the side of the road.
“It seemed to be confused,” said Tad Hair, the Mad River Hand Crew superintendent who saw the kit, on a U.S. Forest Service blog post.
The kit, now named “Chips” after the fire, was walking in circles and seemed to have impaired vision, perhaps due to the fire, Hair said. After he and his crew saw that the kit was fine and not injured, they attempted to leave, but Chips followed them.
“The lone kit, so young that its eyes appeared to be just starting to open, seemed abandoned and lost in the aftermath of the fire,” wrote Laurie Pearson, Chips Fire information officer, in the blog post.
With no signs of a mother bobcat in the area, Hair brought the kit to the incident command post and contacted Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, a nonprofit that helps injured wildlife and returns them to the wild.
Staff at LTWC treated baby Chips for an eye infection, fed her and cleaned off her second-degree burns. And she’s got comfortable digs to rest in while she recovers: “Until her feet are fully healed, she rests on a very soft bed, and is fed up to six pulverized mice per day, plus additional formula,” according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Currently, Chips is recuperating nicely at her new home: she is eating more and her burns are healing well, U.S. Forest Service information officer Lee Anne Schramel Taylor told TakePart.
Since Chips is so young, “she will be sheltered throughout the winter, along with other bobcats,” said Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care co-founder Cheryl Millham.
Being reintroduced into the wild — the eventual goal for this baby bobcat — depends on a number of factors, Schramel Taylor said. Chips must recover from her injuries satisfactorily, be reintroduced somewhere with enough prey, and adopt enough of the behaviors that will help her be successful in the wild.
What would you do if you found a baby animal that needed help? Let us know in the comments.