Now that busy baby season is behind us, the Wildlife Center is bustling about doing repairs, erecting new enclosures, taking inventories and ordering supplies, amongst many other things that we put off at baby season until our patient load is more manageable. It is a crazy time all in itself and before we know it, baby season has rolled around and it starts all over again!
One of the things we look forward to at the center is releases. There is no better reward than the feeling you get when you participate on a release. During the busy season, we rely heavily on volunteers to do releases and the wildlife staff remains at the Wildlife Center to help care for onslaught of injured patients and helpless orphans being admitted daily.
Our bobcats and coyotes take a bit longer to grow and mature before they are released, so release for them usually falls in late summer to early fall. What does that mean to the wildlife team? They get take a break from their reorganizing and repairs and experience that feeling of accomplishment. That reflective moment when you remember all the steps involved with making sure that each patient is ready for a successful release; all of the cleaning, feeding, medications and vaccinations, enclosure changes, enrichment activities, and so much more to get them to where they are today; Freedom.
This year we had bobcat kittens; two siblings, a boy and his little sister. They came in very young and had to be fed multiple times a day, so there was a lot of people exposure. The wildlife team had to be extra careful not to imprint the bobcat kittens. Bobcats are very much like a domestic kitten when they are younger; extremely needy, silly-playful, and just plain old adorable! It was very important that these young kittens were wary of people and remained wild. By early fall, the bobcats were ready to go! They had gained 6-7 times their original weights and were still wild as ever.
It is always bittersweet at a release. It was only a matter of seconds after their cage door was opened that they realized they were free to go and off they shot, running down the trail. Sometimes the animals stop and look back as if they can’t believe they are really free to go, but not these two. These two saw freedom and a whole new world ahead of them and they ran without as much as a glance back. There was a moment of silence then, not purposely, but the caregivers seem to get quiet with our own thoughts. Where will they spend their first night? Will they stay together for a while? After five months in rehab, did we teach them the skills they need to survive? The answer was yes; we gave them a second chance at a life of freedom. We gave them the opportunity to be the wild bobcats they were born to be. Maybe, just maybe they will find mates and have kittens of their own one day.
If you find baby bobcats or other animals that appear orphaned, it is best to first contact The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator nearest you. If you have questions about wildlife, please don’t hesitate to contact the Wildlife Center at 760-789-2324 and one of our volunteers can assist you with understanding the best option for the situation. For non-emergency inquiries, you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.