A Connecticut man travelling in Vermont recently brought an injured bobcat to the Guilford Welcome Center near the Vermont-New Hampshire state line. A state game warden had previously received a report of a bobcat hit by a vehicle on Interstate 91 on the morning of Sunday, March 25, 2012, but she was unable to locate the animal. She then received a call regarding this man who picked up the bobcat and transported it to the welcome center in his vehicle. The warden found the bobcat laying in the back seat of the man’s car, clearly suffering multiple broken bones.
The warden informed the man of the risks he had faced driving with the bobcat in his car. Had the animal woken up, it does not have the behavioral constraints expected of domesticated animals. This particular bobcat reportedly weighed about twenty-five pounds and could have done very serious damage by biting or scratching. In fact, the bobcat reportedly grew more alert and active while the warden waited for a veterinarian to arrive. She stated that the animal, clearly suffering a great deal of pain, began biting the car seats. In order to safely sedate the bobcat, she had to first use a Tazer to incapacitate it. Once it was sedated, the veterinarian quickly determined that the bobcat was too badly injured to be rehabilitated. The decision was made to euthanize it the same day.
Bobcats are wild animals with a geographic range over much of the continental United States and Canada. They are about twice the size of a typical housecat, weighing roughly eleven to thirty pounds. Bobcats are usually nocturnal and solitary, avoiding humans wherever possible. At the same time, they can be quite formidable, with powerful legs that enable them to pounce up to ten feet. Human contact, particularly in close quarters, is best avoided.
The man’s heart was in the right place in trying to save the bobcat, but he also put himself at considerable risk for injury. Had the bobcat bitten the man, it is highly unlikely that he would have had any sort of claim for damages against anyone. A person injured by an animal, or someone injured because of reasonable fear of attack by an animal, might be able to make a claim against the animal’s owner, or the person directly responsible for controlling the animal. Wild animals in the wild have no owners and are not subject to anyone’s control.