Lake Metroparks is seeking some bucks in order to help it raise its two orphaned bobcats.
Working through its 501(c)(3) Lake Parks Foundation the parks system would like to raise $10,000 in donations.
The money would go toward several key components in raising the two female bobcat kittens. Among them would be to help defray veterinary costs, food expenses, and a make-over of the quarantine cage being used to rear the kittens with minimal human contact.
Also, some of the hoped-for money is slated for the purchase and installation of a live-feed surveillance camera.
Such a device would allow both agency staff and the public to view and monitor the two bobcats without having any associated human contact.
This last element is essential, the Foundation's sales pitch literature says, because the ultimate goal is to release the animals back into the wild after they mature and can fend for themselves.
Human contact would disrupt that sought-after assignment as the two bobcats would have become too acclimated to humans; always a no-no when raising any animal intended for release back into the wild.
The most immediate concern is reconfiguring the bobcats' large rearing cage. Here, the wild felines will self-learn how to hunt for live prey.
Lake Metroparks was awarded the care of the bobcats by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
The first kitten was found in early May alongside a road in Muskingum County. A dead adult female bobcat was located nearby, almost certainly the kitten's mother.
A second orphaned bobcat was discovered about one week later, this time in Noble County, and by a person out mowing his lawn. The mother could not be located so the Wildlife Division delivered that kitten as well to Lake Metroparks' Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center in Kirtland.
Utilizing a local veterinarian with experience in caring for wildlife, the parks system determined the two kittens were healthy, suffering only from some minor malnutrition as well as parasitic issues.
Initially the bobcat kittens were receiving round-the-clock care including hand-feeding every couple of hours.
Currently the two bobcat kittens are being weaned off a special “milk” formula and have begun eating solid food.
They were introduced a number of weeks ago and are getting along just fine, agency staff says.
Now the task remains of ensuring the young bobcats will have what it takes to survive on their own, a requirement that has led the parks system to consult with other wildlife care specialists on the best “raise for release” strategies.
Bobcats are listed as a Threatened Species in Ohio. By threatened, a listed species or subspecies survival is not in immediate jeopardy but to which such a danger exists. Another example of a state-listed threatened species is the trumpeter swan.
Threatened is one step down from endangered, a term that implies that a species or subspecies is on the brink of being what's called extirpated from Ohio. Other examples of a state-listed endangered species would be the black bear and the snowshoe hare.
Other classification statuses employed by the Wildlife Division along with an example are Species of Concern (black vulture), Species of Special Interest (common raven), Extirpated (American bison), and Extinct (blue pike).
Suzie Prange, a Wildlife Division biological researcher, notes that bobcat sightings in Ohio have markedly increased since 2002 with 293 unverified sightings reported in 2011 along with 136 verified sightings.
Bobcats were once common in Ohio but changing land-use practices brought about by the emergence of development, farming and increasing human population led to the disappearance of bobcats in the state more than 150 years ago.
Consequently, the bobcat is a species in the Wildlife Division's reestablishment crosshairs, with the agency going to great lengths to foster the species' continued recovery in the state.
“That the Ohio Division of Wildlife would choose to entrust the care of these orphaned bobcats to us demonstrates its confidence in our Wildlife Center's staff,” said Lake Metroparks' executive director Paul Palagyi
“Such trust only goes to affirm the excellent reputation that is shared by our Wildlife Center and its dedicated and professional staff.”
And while any donation for the bobcat's care is acceptable the Lake Parks Foundation notes that any contribution of $100 or more will include recognition by the Wildlife Center as well as future bobcat updates and reports.
For further information about making a donation, call 440-709-6205.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn