A young bobcat that was nursed to health in the San Diego area after being badly burned in a San Bernardino County wildfire was returned to its natural habitat Tuesday for release back into the wild.
A state Department of Fish and Wildlife warden picked up the rehabilitated animal this morning from the San Diego Humane Society's Ramona Wildlife Center for transport to a site outside the El Dorado Fire burn area rich with nourishment resources, SDHS spokeswoman Nina Thompson said.
The bobcat, then 7 to 9 months old, arrived at the Highland Valley Road wildlife center Oct. 13 after being found by a Yucaipa resident walking her dogs, according to the Humane Society.
A medical team with SDHS Project Wildlife went to work debriding and dressing the ailing cat's burns, some of which were severe and infected. The treatment regimen included bandage changes, strong antibiotics and pain medication to keep the feline comfortable.
Within a month, the recuperating bobcat doubled in size to more than nine pounds.
"This is why we work so hard for every single patient who comes through our doors -- so they can return to the wild and thrive in their natural habitat," said Andy Blue, campus director at the Ramona Wildlife Center.
"This little fighter went from emaciated with severe burns to becoming a feisty predator who will be able to fend for herself in nature. We are thrilled!"
The northeastern San Diego County wildlife veterinary facility specializes in caring for apex predators and birds of prey, including bears, bobcats, coyotes, eagles, hawks, mountain lions and owls.