Driving down Old River Road south of Ukiah one day, I swerved around a lump on the road that looked like a cat. I pulled over to remove the animal and look for a tag, because it's sad enough to lose one's pet; I hate to think of someone finding theirs after traffic ran over it for the remainder of the day. Then, in the rearview mirror, I saw one leg stab pitifully at the air. It was still alive.
This must be one expensive cat, I thought as I approached it, because of its wild-looking spots and handsome coat. Instead, it was a wild bobcat. I put the bloodied, listless thing in my hatchback and brought it to the bemused officers at the local animal shelter. But they contacted a Mendocino County wildlife rescue group, who took the cat to several state-of-the-art Bay Area facilities.
Veterinary surgeons fixed her broken jaw and leg, and specialists in Morgan Hill rehabilitated her in an environment created to minimize human contact—hiding their scent and wearing leaves when feeding.
Months later, I was called in to help release the cat near where she was found. The young bobcat in the transport cage had grown up: snarling, wild and very much alive. And an expensive cat, after all.
You can help to fund efforts to save injured or displaced wildlife just by having a beer. Tuesday, Nov. 11, Lagunitas Brewing Company hosts "Pints for Paws," a fundraiser for Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue (SCWR). A cover charge and all beer sales will be donated to the organization, with the Pulsators and Dylan Chambers and the Midnight Transit providing the tunes. While the lively scene would be too stressful for SCWR's educational animals, animal-shaped touch and feel boards—with real skunk fur, for instance—will be on display.
The Petaluma-based organization rescued three baby bobcats this season, according to executive director Doris Duncan. Wildlife Rescue also partners with wineries to place and maintain barn owl boxes in vineyards. Nest activity is monitored and GPS coordinates help to re-home orphaned owlets—and the owls pitch in by adopting them.
"Pints for Paws" at Lagunitas Brewing Company, happens Nov. 11, from 5:30pm to 8pm. 1280 N. McDowell Blvd. $10 cover. 707.992.0274. www.scwildliferescue.org.
In April, 2015, the Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County invites supporters to have "A Wild Night at the Castle" at Castello di Amorosa. 707.224.4295. www.napawildliferescue.org.
Marin County's Wildcare Bay Area invites the public to meet animals during daily feedings and "turkey vulture enrichment" sessions. 76 Albert Park Lane, San Rafael. 415.456.7283. Donations accepted at www.wildcarebayarea.org.