Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dead, injured bobcats turning up at Redlands Mesa

Injured and dead bobcats showing up recently on and near the Redlands Mesa Golf Course have area residents and wildlife officials wondering if the cats were illegally trapped.

And if the bobcats were the victims of illegal snares, who would want to harm them, and why?

After being called by Redlands Mesa personnel, the Division of Wildlife live-trapped an injured bobcat and later euthanized it, said Division spokesman Randy Hampton.

“It had injuries that may be consistent with being caught in an illegal trap,” Hampton said. “Unfortunately the injuries were significant and the animal was unable to be rehabilitated.”

That bobcat was reported April 5, said Eric Feely, general manager of Redlands Mesa. The animal was missing two paws, which experts say is consistent with being caught in a snare trap, he added.

Another cat was found dead last weekend, he said.

“I saw a dead bobcat missing its hind leg on green 15,” said Robyn Keefover, who works at the golf course and described herself as “pro-wildlife.”

Keefover believes someone’s using illegal traps. She wants to warn people of the possibility of hidden snares.

“There’s a lot of hikers, dogs, children who hike around this area. I cringe at the idea of one of their legs getting chopped off,” Keefover said.

The Division has not seen any illegal traps in the area, Hampton said.

The bobcat’s injuries “are consistent” with an illegal snare, he added, “but there’s always a possibility it got into something else, it fell in a hole, got hit by a car, tangled in a fence,” Hampton said of the first bobcat.

The latest bobcat was a baby, between two and two-and-a-half-feet long, the size of a house cat, Feely said.

Its right rear leg “was basically cut off, and the left rear was damaged,” Feely said. The Division told Feely someone in the area may be illegally trapping.

“I don’t think it’s a homeowner,” Feely said. “Something’s happening where they’re getting caught in something. It’s obvious something’s got a hold of its legs.”

It’s a shame, Feely said, because players and residents love to watch the bobcats.

“They’re harmless. They never hurt anybody.”

Feely surmised the animals are injured in traps elsewhere and then seek refuge on the golf course “because they feel safe here.”

“We’ve never had a problem up here with bobcats. They’ve never been anything other than a source of pride for us.”

Redlands Mesa residents and golfers are “totally opposed” to illegally trapping the bobcats, Keefover said. “It is such a cool phenomenon to watch these bobcats chase these rabbits.”

“They’ve been up here forever,” Feely said. “We’ve always been really into them.”

Bobcat pelts are worth up to $400, but they cannot be sold legally without the Division seal, Hampton said.

Anyone who knows anything about the injured bobcats is encouraged to call the Division at 255-6100, Hampton said.

“It could be completely innocent. Our hope is that if someone knows anything, we’re going to hear from them,” Hampton said.

Keefover is attempting to raise money for a reward for information. To reach her, e-mail her at byrdbreath@bresnan.net.

Reach Marija B. Vader at mvader@gjfreepress.com


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