Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bobcats in serious peril despite FWC's flippant comment to contrary

Dear Keith,

Thank you for doing the story on the bobcat.  The reason people see so many bobcats now is because they are losing their homes to development.  It is foolish to say that because a wild animal is seen as road kill, or in close contact with humans that they are doing great in the wild.  It is the first warning signal to protect the bobcat.  We have been trying to find someone (anyone) at the FWC who has done any kind of research on the current status on the bobcat and find that no one is at the helm. 

Jamie Veronica, President of Big Cat Rescue is compiling the negligible data that is available now and has asked permission to camera trap in our state parks in order to truly ascertain the bobcat situation.  Her maps of parks vs development are truly frightening.  We believe that the bobcat is in serious trouble.  The current apathy toward this animal, who protects our crops and human population from disease, by keeping the rats in check, will ultimately send it the way of the Florida Panther.  We are trying to reverse that trend.

Watch five video clips of a baby bobcat, rescued by Big Cat Rescue, who is being trained to one day live free here:

Big Cat Rescue planned for this escape for months. Last year a baby bobcat call came in as the third one in three weeks. He only had one eye and a lump on his belly the size of an orange. Big Cat Rescue was there to get him the medical attention he needed. Emergency surgery repaired the hernia in his abdominal wall. The swelling was the contents of his intestines and other internal organs that had spilled out of the muscled area and were rubbing away at the inner lining of his skin. The attending vet, Dr. Liz Wynn, believes that his hernia and missing eye were caused by some sort of trauma. The area where he was found is completely surrounded by development in West Tampa, but bobcats are often reported there and last year one was found as road kill. After months of recuperation and rehabilitation, Chance the yearling bobcat was released. Watch the movie and see his wild dash for freedom.

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

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Utility worker Finds Bobcat Perched Atop Power Pole

By KEITH MORELLI - The Tampa Tribune

Published: June 3, 2008

Updated: 11:20 am

In the wilds of Wauchula, Peace River Electric Cooperative utility
workers often come across wildlife.

A squirrel on a pole here, an osprey perched up there. Maybe an
opossum resting in the shade of a transformer box.

"We've found some things out there," said utility spokesman Mark
Sellers. "Once we had a transformer blow out, and we found a fish on
top of it. Apparently it was dropped by an osprey or hawk."

A few weeks ago, utility worker Eddie Bailey was traveling near the
town of Ona in Hardee County when he spotted a furry thing parked on
top of a wooden utility pole. Bailey recognized the beast as a
Florida bobcat.

The tawny, intense cat looked down with typical feline aloofness, and
Bailey was perplexed as to what to do.

You can't just climb up the pole and shoo the animal off. After all,
aren't they kind of ornery?

The odds of a scenario like this playing out aren't that slim.

"Bobcats are about as rare as blades of grass in Florida," said
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary

"They are very common, and they conceal themselves well," he said.

"They are seen all the time in the Tampa Bay area, down to Sarasota
and on to Venice," he said. "People often misidentify them as

Florida bobcats have longer tails than people might think, are tall
and lanky and usually are rust colored, but sometimes they are gray.

"We get reports of bobcat sightings on a daily basis," he said. "Most
people are kind of shocked to find out that the species does pretty
well around urbanized areas."

To make sure the Ona bobcat made a safe getaway, the electricity to
the pole that served as his perch was turned off, and then Bailey and
other workers left the area to give it a chance to get down.

A short while later, workers returned to find the feline had
descended the pole and disappeared, apparently unharmed.

Reporter Keith Morelli can be reached at (813) 259-7760 or

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