Redlands Family Gets "Wild Surprise" As They Move In

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Imagine moving into your new house and finding a furry, 45 pound surprise waiting for you. That what recently happened to one Redlands family.

Grand Junction resident Kevin LaDuke says he was relaxing when he got an early evening phone call from his friend who had just moved into her new Redlands home. She told him something was stuck in her chain link fence and asked if he could come over to help.

"She gave a description of pointy ears and different feet," said LaDuke.

Minutes later, Animal Services Officer April Hinshaw got a call that someone had reported some type of wild or feral cat with its head stuck in a chain link fence. Hinshaw said she expected to see a small cat tangled up in the wiring and would likely use a rag to pull it loose. But when she pulled up a the Windsor Court address, she learned this was no run-of-the-mill call.

"I heard something growling when I walked by," said Hinshaw.

Then, it hit her.

"I said oh! That's not a feral cat, that's a bobcat," said Hinshaw. "I was not ready for that."

Neither was LaDuke.

"At first it was pretty scary to see a wild cat like that," said LaDuke.

The pair says it looked like the bobcat tried running straight through the fence, and somehow managed to get its head caught. They tried calling the Division of Wildlife, but dispatch told them the nearest officer was in Rifle. So they decided it was going to be up to them to get this wild animal loose.

They say when they approached the gate, they could tell the bobcat had been stuck for some time. They say it twisting and turning trying to get its head loose.

"That's what really worried me, was how bad it was going to hurt itself," said LaDuke.

But there was another worry in the back of their mind -- how badly it could hurt them.

"I was just hoping he would run away and not run at us," said Hinshaw.

Hinshaw wrapped her snare around the bobcat's hind legs and pulled it to one side, while LaDuke took some bolt cutters and snapped the link trapping its head. They say they removed the snare and bobcat took off into the woods.

"I'm thinking maybe that wasn't the best thing I've ever done in my life," said LaDuke. "But at least the animal is safe, and it really was something I'd never give back because it was really amazing to see an animal that close.

"That was probably the most exciting call that I've had here at animal control," said Hinshaw. "It was gorgeous. It's not everyday we get to work with actual wild animals."

The Division of Wildlife says if a wild animal ever wanders into your home, call them immediately or dial 911 to get the appropriate help.

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