By Emil Franzi, Special to The Explorer
Kathy's mom lives next door about 60 yards away. She called Sunday morning to tell me her Aussie Shepherd Maxmillian had run into a bobcat kitten in her carport.
Max, a gentle dog, had hastily retreated when the little furball landed on his snout. I checked it out and figured kitten went back into whatever hiding place mama bobcat had put her. I told Grandmama, as she's called by our granddaughter, not to fret because mama would be back.
I was correct, but not the way I wanted. About an hour later I found mama bobcat's body less than a yard from where Max had found her kitten. Somebody had shot her.
She'd been hit in the back by what looked like a shotgun blast — wounds in both legs and the rump. Nobody else lives within a few hundred yards of us, so she had one helluva trip home. We decided to honor this gallant little lady by attempting to rescue that kitten.
A call to Pima Animal Care was answered by a real person who gave me the number of the wildlife rescue folks licensed by Game and Fish. A real person answered there, too. They offered to come out with a live trap, but I settled for their advice on using wet cat food and water in the one I had and to not remove mama right away. They said call them back if I scored and they'd come pick it up, but they were concerned that it was still nursing and too young to manage.
I'd like to report a happy ending, but it looks like mama's killer got two-fers. Monday morning, the trap was still empty. There's a bobcat kitten dead or dying somewhere close by.
I find it hard to understand why anybody would want to blow away this pretty little predator. I doubt she was lurking around ready to attack children in their beds. Might go for a cat or Chihuahua size dog if you leave them outside, but that's your fault. And removing one bobcat will barely increase their survival odds — several coyote packs and a batch of owls are doing back-up.
Coyotes and bobcats get the rap for owls too often. Too many folks living in semi-rural or even urban areas are ignorant of the threat of owls to smaller pets. A full-sized Great Horned can lift over 20 pounds. The biggest threat to all size dogs around here during monsoons is Colorado River Toads. I know lots of folks, including us, who've lost or almost lost a dog who licked or mouthed one of these foul critters.
Bobcats — and most snakes including rattlers — perform a useful service by keeping the rodent populations down. Having mama around here greatly reduced the rat population, something that's almost impossible to remove by we who live on large parcels. May whoever killed her find his wiring harness devoured some morning.
Mountain lions are another story, but again there's not many of them. One bagged a larger dog in the Airpark last year. Besides toads, they're the only real threat to most dogs unless the dog is dumb enough to engage a javelina herd — again, owner's fault. Try a "fence."
The bobcat's problem is visibility — unlike cougars, they're not very shy. Cougars are like Ben Johnson's description of Apaches in "Rio Grande." "If you can see 'em, they ain't Apache." I've seen lots of bobcats in the last 30 years, but only two cougars. Suspect more than that have seen me.
I buried mama bobcat this morning under a big mesquite. I admit to crying during the process.
Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030AM.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org