Friday, June 22, 2018

Here, kitty. Lake Metroparks raising for eventual release an orphaned Harrison County bobcat

A woman out-foxed a red fox and in the process saved a bobcat kitten from becoming a certain hors devoures for the wily canine.

In doing so the bobcat is now in the rehabilitative hands of Lake Metroparks at its Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center in Kirtland.

Good Samaritan Nicole Perez was visiting Tappan Lake in Harrison County when she saw what was assumed to be a run-of-the-mill house cat kitten being carried away by a fox.

Perez ran toward the fox, which then dropped the kitten. She then took the kitten to a local veterinarian, and was informed it wasn’t a domestic kitten at all, but a bobcat kitten less than one week old and in frail condition.

Advised by the Ohio Division of Wildlife as to the best course of action to take, Perez drove north to Lake County where Lake Metroparks’ Wildlife Center staff took over. The Center has experience in dealing with rehabilitating bobcats, this being the forth member of the species that the Center has worked with, said the unit’s manager, Tammy O’Neil.

When the bobcat kitten arrived we weren’t sure if it even would make it, being the smallest of the four that we’ve received,” O’Neil said. “It was touch and go for a while.”

O’Neil said that on arrival the bobcat kitten weighed only 270 grams – or 9.52 ounces and its weight had climbed to 1.9 kilograms, or 4.2 pounds. At the time of this story’s appearance the bobcat should be about 11 weeks old.

The bobcat is in what call an ‘intermediate’ enclosure about five feet by 10 feet, but as the kitten matter we will move it into a larger enclosure about 20 feet by 20 feet by 10 feet tall, and it will a lot of natural features so the bobcat can become familiar with that type of surroundings it will find when its released back into the wild,” O’Neil said. “That’s when it will be provided with live prey in order for the bobcat to develop its hunting instincts.”

Interestingly too, at the time this story was written the sex of the kitten was uncertain. It takes a while before the sexual attributes of such animals becomes better defined, O’Neil said.

Even the vet wasn’t sure, and one of the bobcats we rehabilitated before we thought at first was a male was actually a female,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil said she and her staff intends to release this bobcat next spring and near where it was found.

Bobcats were removed from Ohio’s endangered species list in 2014, following the species’ naturally inspired expansion through a large portion of the state. From 1970 through 2017, there have been 2,025 verified sightings of bobcats in Ohio, including 499 last year and of which 18 were in Harrison County, notes Wildlife Division documentation.

This is another example of how successful the bobcats’ reemergence has become in Ohio that taking a kitten like this to a wildlife rehabilitator is almost now routine,” said Jeff Westerfield, wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron.

Harrison County is located in District Three.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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