FORT KENT (AP) – Employees at the local wastewater treatment plant rescued a wildcat that was near drowning after it became trapped in a water treatment lagoon.

The animal probably would have drowned if not for the quick thinking of the workers, said Adrian Marquis, district game warden with the Maine Warden Service. It’s unclear if the animal was a lynx or a bobcat because of its dirty condition, and photos of the animal will be shown to a wildlife biologist for identification, he said.

The animal was discovered in the lagoon Monday morning when a worker went to test the oxygen level in the water, said Mark Soucy, superintendent of the Fort Kent Water and Wastewater Department. When the worker got there, he saw the animal swimming around and called co-workers for assistance.

The men realized the animal had been in the lagoon for some time and appeared to be tiring. Seeing that the cat couldn’t get any traction because of the lagoon lining and the slimy film on top of it, they formulated a rescue plan.

They grabbed a life ring and floated it out to the animal, but at first it kept swimming away from it. But once they left the ring in one spot, the cat hauled itself up and didn’t move while the workers pulled it to shore.

Once on shore, the cat sat on the gravel and didn’t move for about an hour, gathering its strength, Soucy said. It then got up, walked out a nearby open gate at the fenced-in facility and disappeared into the woods.

Marquis said it the rescue plan was “ingenious.”

“I never thought a cat would have gone on top of a ring buoy like that and let itself get dragged out to safety,” he said. “It’s against their nature to be that close to humans, but it worked.”

Soucy said his crew used common sense to save the animal. “We just reacted like anybody else would, I guess,” he said. “We just didn’t want to see it drown.”

AP-ES-07-31-07 1410EDT

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