A badly injured bobcat found last Friday by conservation officers at Falcon Lake was likely hit by a vehicle and left for dead.
The female animal, estimated to be under a year old, suffered two broken bones in one of its back legs and a broken pelvis.
Conservation officers had to set a live trap with food to coax it out so it could be taken for medical treatment.
"She is very young; we believe she is one of last year's babies. Due to her small size she should have still been with her mother so something must have happened to (the mother), which is why (the injured bobcat) was roaming around and underweight quite a bit," said Lisa Tretiak, founder and president of the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, a volunteer-run organization that tries to find ways to rehabilitate injured wild animals and, when possible, return them to their natural habitats.
Officers met Tretiak and other volunteers halfway between Winnipeg and Falcon Lake with the bobcat on Saturday.
It was then taken to the Assinboine Park Zoo for safety reasons and to be examined.
"We tried to have a quick exam but unfortunately she was still quite powerful and quite alert so she needed to be sedated and we're not able to do that type of treatment or X-rays," Tretiak said.
X-rays showed the injuries were extensive but the leg could be saved with surgery to put in two metal pins.
"They (the zoo) didn't have the appropriate pins for it because she is a relatively small animal but they did find another veterinarian, Dr. Trevor Bebchuk, a small-animal specialist, and he believes he can attempt to pin the leg," Tretiak said.
The surgery will be done today but there is a chance the leg bone could crumble and the leg would have to be amputated. After the surgery, the bobcat will be fostered by a volunteer in a rural area and its future evaluated after it recovers.
"It will be a long recovery process, four to six weeks, but we are hoping the leg will stay intact," Tretiak said. "Our first goal is to get animals back out there (into the wild). If it can't happen, we'd look at potential other placements."
Tretiak said "the stress of captivity" can be too much for some animals so the bobcat will be closely monitored.
Tretiak said conservation officers had been looking for the bobcat after residents in the Falcon Lake area reported seeing one close to their homes.
To cover the $1,200 cost of the surgery, the PWRC is holding a pizza buffet fundraiser at the Area Nightclub (1792 Pembina Hwy.) on Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where the Winnipeg Jets vs. Montreal Canadiens game will be on the big screen. Tickets are $15 by calling the centre at 204-510-1855 or can be purchased at the door.
Go to www.pwildlife.ca for more information.