Bobcat found lurking at the Monroe prison

MONROE — It’s not often a prison deals with a break-in.

But that’s what happened overnight Tuesday at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

The culprit was a bobcat that somehow managed to climb into the section that houses special offenders on the sprawling prison campus.

“He was kind of a cat burglar I guess,” local veterinarian Dr. Roger Hancock said.

Hancock got a call around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday to see if he would go to the prison and trap the cat.

He did so gladly.

“It’s kind of like a ‘Dear Mom, Guess what I did today adventure,’” he said. “I thought if I could help out, great.”

Hancock was able to tranquilize the animal with a dart, get it in a cage and drive it to Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish.

It was all in a day’s work.

After that, he was off to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo where he does some consulting work. He checked up on an elk and a mountain goat that needed hooves clipped and other medical attention.

Wildlife calls are a side interest. Hancock specializes in treating cows.

The bobcat was first spotted by corrections officers between two tall cyclone fences on the prison grounds late Monday night.

The bobcat was discovered during a perimeter check at about 11:30 p.m., state Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said. The startled animal ran through the razor-wire perimeter fence and made its way to the rooftop of a yard enclosure.

Prison officials called the Monroe Police Department, which referred them to the Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital. Hancock needed one shot from about 30 to 40 feet away on a roof above to nab the bobcat with a tranquilizer. His biggest concern was hitting the animal in a spot where the sedative would work quickly so it wouldn’t panic and fall or jump off the roof where it had taken refuge.

Hancock then lined up a ladder so he could gather the animal with a noose on the end of a pole and deposit it into a portable kennel.

He drove the zonked-out cat away in his vet van, secured inside a heavily duct-taped kennel. Once at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, the animal was treated for deep cuts to a back paw and its rear flank. The wounds required several stitches. The cat also was given antibiotics and pain medications.

“They think it will make a full recovery,” Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital spokeswoman Charlotte Graeber Compton said.

The bobcat was described as a juvenile between 1 and 3 years old. Hancock estimates it weighs roughly 25 pounds.

The bobcat was transferred to the Sarvey Wildlife Center near Arlington, which will handle its release.

Finding bobcats in open areas is not uncommon, provided enough brushy or timbered areas for escape cover is nearby.

That doesn’t mean they typically hang around the prison.

“It’s pretty unusual,” Monroe prison complex superintendent Rob Herzog said.

Hancock speculates that the young cat might have been hungry and has been trying to stake territory of its own.

The veterinarian said he didn’t mind the early morning call.

“I really do love what I do,” he said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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