Belle, the Belleville bobcat, is running wild again along with her young son, Bobbie.
The Belle saga began back in early March. Mike Neiner rescued the bobcat on Town Hall Road near Belleville after his wife had seen the animal alongside the road on her way to work. Apparently it had been struck by a car.
Neiner wrapped up the bobcat and took it to his home. Then he called TreeHouse Wildlife Center in Dow which sent someone to pick up the animal which was still unconscious.
The people were somewhat wary as they did not want to confront an irate bobcat in a garage. But the bobcat still was stunned.
The center had her X-rayed, found nothing seriously wrong and named it Belle, for the area where it was found.
Belle had her own enclosure at the center and began to recover. One day, a volunteer walking in the back of her enclosure was startled when the normally docile Belle tried to attack her through the fence. One question led to another about why the bobcat was so protective of its turf and soon they discovered that Belle had a new kitten. Apparently the kitten was so small when Belle was X-rayed that no one saw it.
The kitten, named Bobbie, because no one knew initially what sex it was, grew rapidly and even was featured in videos posted on YouTube as he played on and around his house and with his mother.
The center had intended to reintroduce Belle to the wild after she recuperated but put off the event for a while.
"We wanted to leave them together until we knew that Bobbie was big enough to hunt, just in case he became separated from his mother," said Adele Moore, founder of the center. "She was a great mom but we needed to be sure."
Bobcat kittens often stay with their mothers through the fall and even into spring sometimes, according to reports on the Internet.
Belle and Bobbie were taken to land near Valmeyer owned by Clifftop, a group that preserves natural areas, and released during the second week in October.
In a video of the release, also on YouTube, Belle cautiously came out of her carrier and began examining her surroundings. After volunteers took the top off Bobbie's carrier, he quickly scampered off after his mother.
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