Not to forget the skunk, we’ve sure had our share of wildlife woes these last couple of months. Yesterday I found a 3 month old baby bobcat in my chicken coop. I had opened the coop door to let my 2 remaining geriatric hens roam in the chicken yard for the afternoon. But when I rode by on my mower later in the day, something caught my eye that was definitely wrong. There was an animal darting around inside the coop. I couldn’t tell at the time whether it was a raccoon, fox, or cat, but as I approached the coop, I could see it was a cat, but not a housecat. It was the size of a housecat, but had tufted ears, a ruff around the face, and a short tail. I had a bobcat kitten. One of my hens was lying dead near the coop with her throat ripped out. I didn’t see the other, but assumed it was dead too. I quickly shut the door to the coop and locked the kitten in. Don’t be misled when I say “kitten” that this was a cute cuddly ball of fluff. Though this kit couldn’t have weighed more than 5 pounds, it was a hellcat; growling, spitting, hissing, bearing very sharp needlelike teeth.
I found my other chicken, Marilyn, huddled behind a shrub in the corner of the yard. She looked ok at the time, so I left her be, where she was safe. Now, what to do with this baby bobcat. I didn’t want to leave it in lock down too long, in case momma came looking for it. I’ve seen the adult bobcat in the area from time to time. Bobcats are also referred to as Lynx. An adult will be about 24 inches tall, and 36 inches long and weigh around 30 pounds. The momma cat wouldn’t have any trouble ripping that coop apart to rescue her young one.
So I started making calls. First call is to Dear Husband to see if he can get off early. It’s 4:30, and at best, it will be 6:00 before he can be home. Next call is to the Wildlife Rescue League. Their phone message states clearly that they do not retrieve any animals but that they must be delivered to the center. Fat chance that I’m going to tackle that beast and take him anywhere. The simple choice would be to just release him back into the wild. But now he has a taste for chickens and knows where to find them. Then there’s the difficult choice, to send him off to bobcat heaven, but I won’t do that. He is a cute kitten, after all. I would love to get him relocated, but on the other hand, where there is one kitten, there is probably a mom with a litter out there still. No good answer. My last call was to the county sheriff’s animal control division. A very nice lady deputy told me that there was nothing they could do, as they were prohibited from relocated wildlife, but she offered to come out and help release him.
She arrived about one minute after DH got home. Before releasing the cat, we needed to secure my one remaining chicken, still hiding behind the bush. When I retrieved her, I discovered, unfortunately, that she had been bitten on the neck as well, but we’re going to treat with antibiotic ointment and try to bring her through.
We have 4 chicks that are 7 weeks old brooding in the garage. In a couple of weeks, we will move them out to the coop so Marilyn won’t be all alone.