A full-grown bobcat was found roaming the underground parkade of the Delta Whistler Village Suites last Thursday afternoon.
A guest spotted the large cat in the gated parking area around 3 p.m. and immediately alerted hotel personnel.
“It was very alert and attentive and was watching us with his eyes as we walked around from one side of the tower to the other looking at it,” said general manager Kimberley Hughes. She added the cat was not aggressive.
Conservation Officer Dean Miller was called to the scene, and within half an hour the bobcat was immobilized with a tranquilizer gun. Miller then removed the animal from the parking lot.
“It took two attempts to tranquilize it. The first one I think he missed it, and then he got it with the second one… And the bobcat was perched on an air vent up high, so the officer carefully lifted him off and carried him to his car,” said Hughes.
Miller said the cat was in a “strange spot” because it was behind a key gate.
“They don’t really know how it got there. It was well into the parkade, pretty far back. And it was not sick. It was an animal that got into the wrong spot,” he said.
Miller kept the animal in his garage that night until it showed no signs of drowsiness. At 2 a.m. the following morning, he released it back into the wild.
“We wait out the drowsiness, because if you release an animal that is showing signs of immobilization, they are subject to predation and to the cold. We try to keep it in a moderate climate so it does recover fully,” said Miller.
“I actually had it in the garage where I stay, just because I can close the garage door and keep it quite dark in there. And it was slowly recovering, and all of a sudden, it was quite active in the cage,” he said, adding that he could not say where the animal was released.
The cat was originally thought to be a lynx, but later identified as a bobcat.
According to Miller, the two species look similar but can be distinguished by size, shape, and colouring.
He added that lynxes are hardly ever seen in an urban environment, whereas Conservation Officers in Whistler usually get four or five calls for bobcats this time of year.
Last year, officers responded to three calls for bobcats in
public spaces. Two were reported in residential areas — a shed and a
garage — and the third was involved in a motor vehicle accident
All three cats were taken to Critter Care Wildlife
Society in Langley.
Miller said Thursday’s animal was not taken to Critter Care
because there was no concern over its survival. Only animals that are injured,
starving, or orphaned are taken to the facility.
He added that he strongly doubts this animal will return to any
urban environment in the near future.
“By my evaluation, this was a healthy animal that would most
likely have a successful return to its natural activities. As well, the
experience of the immobilization is negative enough that the animal would
likely avoid human contact in the future,” he said.
Hughes added that this is not the first time wildlife has
entered into the Delta’s parkade.
“It is the first time we’ve ever had a bobcat, but we’ve had bears. And this summer we actually cut down all our mountain ash trees on the property, about 30 of them, just because we are concerned about bears,” she said.