by DOUG ESSER
Security is tight at the Monroe Corrections Complex to keep 2,400 Washington state prisoners locked up, but it couldn’t stop a bobcat from breaking in.
Officers on a perimeter fence check apparently startled the cat about 11:30 p.m. Monday, said Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis.
“And it ran the wrong direction,” he said, “through the razor-wire.”
The small, agile cat was able to make it through the fence that would trap a person. It suffered a few cuts in the process.
The cat climbed up on the roof of the special offenders unit where it was spotted a few hours later, its eyes glowing in the dark.
The prison staff called veterinarian Roger Hancock who shot the bobcat with a tranquilizer gun and took it to the Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish.
It was stitched up Tuesday, and the prognosis is good, said spokeswoman Charlotte Graeber Compton.
The bobcat was transferred to the Sarvey Wildlife Center in Arlington to recover before being released back into the wild, she said.
Raccoons have been seen outside the prison fence, but no other wild animals are known to have made it inside, said Corrections Lt. Jose Briones.
Bear and cougar sighting around state prisons in rural areas are relatively common, Lewis said.
“A bobcat inside the fence, that’s unusual,” he said. There are a few trees, but no forest around the prison at Monroe, about 30 miles northeast of Seattle.
The fact that a bobcat can break in doesn’t cause prison officials to worry that an inmate could break out of the state’s second-largest prison, with five units ranging in security from minimum to maximum, Lewis said.
“If we had an inmate the same size of a bobcat with the same level of dexterity, then we’re concerned,” he said.
No one knows for sure what attracted the bobcat to the prison. It may have been hunting. And, it may have been looking for a safe place when it climbed on the roof of the unit that houses mentally ill offenders. Everyone agrees it made a mistake.
“For whatever reason, I’m sure it was wondering ‘Where the heck am I?'” said Corrections complex spokeswoman Susan Biller.
“Yeah, I’d call it weird.”