A year-old bobcat that was injured in February when it was struck by a police car on Laguna Canyon Road, Calif. was released back into the wild on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Laguna Beach Police Department)

A bobcat struck by a police car in Orange County, California earlier this year has recovered and was released back into the wild on Saturday.

The bobcat was injured in February when it ran onto Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach and was struck by a police car. It was taken to the Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital, where it underwent rehabilitation for two months.

Laguna Beach police Officer Thomas McGuire, who was driving the car, and veterinarian Dr. Scott Weldy, who treated the wild animal for head trauma, were both on hand to witness the rehabilitated bobcat’s release into the backcountry of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

Weldy told the Los Angeles Times he fed the bobcat a final meal of chicken parts before taking it to the wilderness park, near where it was injured, for its release.

McGuire was responding to a call on Feb. 19 when it struck the year-old bobcat. “I felt horrible,” he told the Times.

He pulled over immediately and called animal control officers, who rushed the animal to Weldy’s facility.

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It was that immediate reaction, the vet told the Orange County Register, that saved the bobcat’s life.

Weldy found the bobcat had significant head trauma, and its sternum had been fractured. Weldy also discovered from full body X-rays that the cat had been shot, the OC Register reported. Lead fragments in the cat’s hind legs near the ankles had healed over the bullets.

According to Weldy, putting the bobcat back close to where he was found is critical for his surviva. The park is stocked with rabbits and squirrels, the favored diet of bobcats.

“I’m happy for him,” McGuire told the OC Register. “Hopefully, it all goes well and it’s almost like it never happened for him. It’s nice to see him back where he belongs.”

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