UPDATE

Bobcat trapped in car grille released in Arizona forest

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After a little nudge, the bobcat was off like a shot. (Source: CBS 5 News) After a little nudge, the bobcat was off like a shot. (Source: CBS 5 News)
The bobcat was trapped inside the grille after it was hit by a car. (Source: CBS 5 News) The bobcat was trapped inside the grille after it was hit by a car. (Source: CBS 5 News)
A veterinarian at Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center took X-rays of the animal. (Source: CBS 5 News) A veterinarian at Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center took X-rays of the animal. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Rescuers were able to successfully free the wild animal. (Source: CBS 5 News) Rescuers were able to successfully free the wild animal. (Source: CBS 5 News)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5/AP) -

An Arizona bobcat that survived getting stuck inside the grille of a car was released back into the wild Friday.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials released the bobcat into the Tonto National Forest. The young bobcat was hesitant at first, but after a little nudge of the animal carrier he was off like a shot.

The experts at Southwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center have been caring for the bobcat for the past week.

A.J. Michaels was driving to a north Scottsdale restaurant Jan. 2 when he hit the animal in the roadway near Scottsdale and Indian Bend roads.

When he arrived at the restaurant, Michaels walked around his vehicle checking for damage and discovered the object he had hit.

He saw a bobcat, alive and apparently OK, stuck in the grille of his car.

"I felt very badly it had been hit," Michaels said. "I thought I killed it."

Experts from the Arizona Game and Fish Department spent quite some time figuring out how best to rescue the bobcat.

Staffer Geoffrey Hossack first fired a tranquilizer dart to subdue the animal. After cutting into a section of the grille, he pulled the 7-pound cat out of one enclosed space and placed him into another.

"You have the fact that it had basically not used up any of its nine lives," Michaels said.

From all indications, the animal was not bleeding.

Hossack took the bobcat to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, where a veterinarian checked him out. The bobcat didn't suffer any breaks, fractures or external injuries.

"I would say his condition is amazing," Hossack said. "It's unheard of that an animal this small is going get hit by a vehicle and survive."

"It is definitely a New Year's miracle," Michaels said.

Bobcats are common throughout Arizona at all elevations, especially in rimrock and chaparral areas, and in the outskirts of urban areas where food is readily available, according to the Arizona Game and Fish website. 

"These guys can leap as high as 12 feet and they're much stronger than a domesticated house cat even though he's similar in size right now," Hossack said.

 

Copyright 2015 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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