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Henniker police sergeant helps nurse injured bobcat back to health

Sgt. Matthew French and conservation officer Delayne Brown release a bobcat in Henniker on November 30, 2013. French hit the bobcat with his car while heading home from work earlier in November. He took the bobcat to Brown who then took it to Wings of Dawn wildlife rehabilitation in Henniker where it healed up.

Sgt. Matthew French and conservation officer Delayne Brown release a bobcat in Henniker on November 30, 2013. French hit the bobcat with his car while heading home from work earlier in November. He took the bobcat to Brown who then took it to Wings of Dawn wildlife rehabilitation in Henniker where it healed up.

Sgt. Matt French of the Henniker Police Department was heading home from work two weeks ago when he hit what he thought was a house cat.

He doubled back and discovered the blur that ran under his truck tires was certainly a cat – just not someone’s pet.

He had hit a bobcat.

“I’ve seen them before during work, but I certainly didn’t expect to run one over,” French said. “And I certainly didn’t expect it to live.”

Bobcats are the most common wildcats in North America, but in 1989, the state barred bobcat hunting and trapping out of concern for a declining local population. The number of bobcats in New Hampshire seems to be on the rise again, according to the Fish and Game Department, but hunting and trapping seasons remain closed.

French thought the animal was dead, he said, so he brought the bobcat to Conservation Officer Delayne Brown at Fish and Game. Brown realized the young male cat had only been knocked out, and he brought it to Maria Colby, who runs Wings of Dawn wildlife rehabilitation in Henniker.

This bobcat was just “a little tyke,” Colby said.

“He had a concussion . . . but everything else was fine,” Colby said. “For the first three or four days, he didn’t move around a lot. (Then) I could see he was playing a little bit with the things I left for him.”

After two weeks of recovery with feathers and string, the bobcat was ready to go back to its mother in the Henniker woods. French and Brown released the bobcat together Saturday, sending it back into the wild near where the sergeant hit it on Old West Hopkinton Road.

When they let it out of the carrier crate, French said the young cat only stuck around for a minute before it bolted toward the trees.

“He didn’t want to hang out and chat,” French joked.

Police and conservation officers often work together on law enforcement issues, Colby said, but rescuing the baby bobcat required a different kind of partnership.

“You don’t see too often police officers and game officers doing wildlife rescue. . . . It was a great opportunity to show their kids that they were doing this wonderful thing for wildlife,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, that bobcat would have been dead.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Legacy Comments3

What a great story! Thank you for all you did!

“You don’t see too often police officers and game officers doing wildlife rescue. . . . " This has got to be one of the most ignorant statements I've ever read. NH F&G officers COMMIT THEIR ENTIRE LIVES TO HELP MAINTAIN HEALTHY WILDLIFE POPULATIONS! Regardless of what the PETA crowd thinks . . .

Hunter - I think she was saying you don't often see police officers & game officers teaming up to rescue wildlife. It's the police officer's role in this that's unusual, not the game officer's.

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