Friday, February 13, 2009

SW Florida facility rehabs bobcat

Conservancy's first patient of '09 a feisty baby bobcat

By Andrea Stetson - Special to The News-Press - February 12, 2009

For the first time in 15 years the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is raising a baby bobcat. He's a feisty fellow who is racking up huge food bills, but doesn't want anything to do with his saviors.

That behavior is just what his caretakers want as they plan to eventually release him into the wild.

The kitten was first spotted by residents of the Pinewoods development off Airport-Pulling Road. They noticed two young bobcats without a mother. The residents borrowed traps from the conservancy and managed to capture one. The second one was never seen again. Without a mother to guide it, the young bobcat couldn't survive on its own. It will live at the conservancy until it's old enough to be released.
Joanna Fitzgerald Vaught, director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the conservancy, said baby bobcats usually stay with their mothers for about a year. She is hoping the bobcat, which she believes is about four months old, can be released this summer.

Meanwhile, Vaught and her staff are trying to keep the bobcat as healthy and wild as possible. No one touches or goes near him. They clean his cage when he goes inside a smaller caged area. They put out his food when he's hiding in a den made from the top of a large dog carrier.

"We don't even look at him," Vaught said.

When the bobcat arrived Jan, 1, as the first new patient of 2009, he weighed just under five pounds. The conservancy didn't let anyone know about it until Wednesday because they didn't want visitors, who could make him familiar with people.

This bobcat eats $60 a week worth of rats, mice and quail. His food bill will increase as he gets bigger. Vaught expects to pay more than $2,000 for food during his entire stay.

The little bobcat eats dead animals now, but as it grows older Vaught will feed it live rats to help it learn to capture its own food.


Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at

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