A glimps into the world of wildlife rehabilitation…the world through a rehabber's eyes.

environment

Sometimes, Mother Nature’s “Plan B” needs a Plan B….


Well, followers, many of you are fans on our facebook page…you just come here for the more in-depth scoop of the goings on here at the ranch, huh? Well, we have some very exciting events happening right now, and we could not be more pleased, and sad, and thrilled, and humbled all at the same time!

We rehabbers could be described as a buffer between the natural (and in my opinion “real”) world and the ever advancing industrialized consuming machine that is modern human “culture”. We are celebrators and worshipers of nature, and the amazing things it provides and creates. We are the wild ones, the ones that cannot exist without nature, and find the thought of the absence of nature devastating. We speak for and defend the voiceless ones.

We could never imagine being able to counter-balance our top-heavy world-wide carrying capacity, but instead strive to soften the impact, ever so slightly. Every life we touch, every person we impact, every animal we hold in our hands, is one more chance to do something amazing and good. Ultimately, our goal is to educate humanity of the importance of moderation, stewardship, and responsibility. Our goal is to bolster the wild creatures and ensure their footing in our future world.

Ultimately, our deepest desire is to share these stories with the world, and return these creatures to the wild world where they belong, and where they fit most perfectly. Often, we are successful. Often, we see our goals come to fruition. Sometimes…well, sometimes we end up with beings like Cheeze. Sometimes, these guys just get too missguided through misinformed human intervention to remember how to fit back into their perfect wild world. This, my friends, this is one of the bitter sweet moments in our calling. This is where we mourn for individuals like Quincey (his story can be seen as an earlier entry here on our official blog) who must now spend their days in human captivity rather than fulfilling their destiny as one of the wild ones; uninhibited and free.

Just like we as a species have always sought the silver lining in every dreary cloud, we rehabbers have perfected the art of “plan B”. This bitterness does not come without sweet moments when we realized that though this may not have been Mother Nature’s plan, all is not lost. It now becomes our duty to ensure that this wild one’s life is not without meaning or purpose. We take these unique individuals, and we find a world that fits them.

In the process, we are presented with a very unique situation that carries with it the utmost gravity. This creature, this very special, perfectly designed creature now takes on the position of a teacher. He may not know the gravity associated with his newly created position in life, and even those that come to see and marvel at his beauty may not know (at least in their conscious mind) how important this one, singular creature has become.

This one marvel, this one amazing creation represents hundreds and thousands more of his kind (and others) that are battling for survival…fighting, struggling, defending their right to exist. People may come in the hundreds to get just a glimpse of this elusive, magnificent creature…hundreds more may completely ignore him. But it just takes one. One person to be impacted by the mere presence of the creature in front of them…just one person who’s imagination was lit afire, who’s heart awakened and realized what this singular creature stands for…what nature has been screaming, crying, and trying to tell him through the eons.

Humans are not a separate existence from the earth. Without our earth, we do not exist. Each plant, each animal, each microbial existence in the soil beneath our feet is essential to the well-being of our earth. Our home.

Crosstimbers is absolutely honored to have a part to play in impacting that one person. Today, as of this writing, three of our most memorable cats are headed to new homes. New lives, and new responsibilities of the utmost importance. Today, Crosstimbers wishes safe journeys and wonderful new lives to our three ambassador graduates. We want to share and savor this new beginning with each and every one of our fans and followers.

Cheeze, Ollie, and Yoda graduated from Crosstimbers today, and are now on their way to new lives as teachers…All three of these wonderful kitties are headed to the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

All of the staff members here at Crosstimbers are so excited for these guys. They have all been wonderful teachers to us here, and now go on to continue their work impacting hundreds more in their wonderful new home. Good luck, and safe journey Cheeze, Ollie, and Yoda!


Queso – a tough rehabbing case!


“Cheeze”

                       

Did we spell it wrong?  No, Cheeze was originally a “Q” in the alphabet, so he was initially named “Queso”.   He was such a unique cat and his name just didn’t fit him. He was so funny and such a ham, that the name “Cheese” seemed to fit him better and it eventually evolved to “Cheeze”.

Cheeze has a sad, but certainly not uncommon story.  He came to us from another rehabilitator in the Houston area.  This particular rehabber, athough very talented with a multitude of wild species, and who has a stellar reputation received Cheeze as a single kit.  She did not know we existed and did not know how incredibly hard it is to raise bobcats to be returned to the wild. 

Almost any rehabber who has made this mistake will only make it once.  Cheeze grew up somewhere between imprinted and having wild instinct.  She handled him just enough for him to like being around humans, but not enough to make him “handle-able”. Not having any previous experience with this species, and with no access to anyone who truly specializes in working with bobcats, this rehabber made the all too common mistake of releasing Cheeze WAY before he was ready. At just six months of age, Cheeze just did not have the emotional fortitude or experience to survive on his own.

Bobcats, in the wild, stay with their mothers until they are at least 10 months of age.  When they go through rehabilitation, a rehabber must commit to care for these animals for a minimum of one year, because until then, they are emotionally just little kittens.  They do not know how to care for themselves, but more importantly, they do not have the emotional capability to do much more than chase and play with anything that moves.  Learning that it must hunt and kill things to survive does not occur to them until they are at least a year of age.  

This rehabber felt they were doing the right thing. Not knowing of anyone else in the United States that works with this species, the rehabber decide to release Cheeze on their private property.  He stuck around.  Played outside, ran to find people when he saw them, and ultimately, when he could not feed himself, turned his frustration, hunger, and aggression towards people. People had always been his food providers. He could not understand why they were not bringing him the things he needed to survive.   

 We agreed to take Cheeze in, knowing that he had severe behavioral issues, and knowing that there was a good chance of injury to one of our many skilled handlers, however, we understood that it was no flaw of his that prompted his aggressive behavior.  He was acting the way he had been “programmed” to act, and for that, we could not fault him.  What we have learned about bobcats is that when imprinted, they want to please, they just don’t always know how.

    Cheese was one of our toughest cases.  He was highly food aggressive and would startle easily.  All trust for humans was gone.  However, since bobcats have an intrinsic desire to want to please, Cheeze set about trying to build trust, and after several years of love and dedication, he is a happy, healthy, respectful young man who has just been put on to our adoption list and is scheduled to go to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. in mid-January. 

It is our greatest joy to know that an animal as beautiful as Cheeze will live a long and happy life being an ambassador to the world in one of the finest educational facilities in our country!


Aside

Bridgie: One of our long term residents


Bridgette

Bridgette came to us in 2008. Her family surrendered their “pet” to us at four months of age. Once they discovered that wild animals can act aggressive at a drop of a hat, especially with those who are not trained in animal behavior, they made the decision to bring her to a facility that would understand her, and give her appropriate care and interaction. 

Although Bridgette is a very sweet cat, like all bobs, she can throw a fit like nobody’s business.  She was a funny kitten who had us laughing all the time.  She could eat more food than any adult on the property.  She would literally gorge herself until she was miserable. 

These pictures were taken one night after she had finished dinner.  It was a night that I will never forget.  It was almost like she ate herself drunk!  This was a progression of pictures over about 30 minutes.  She was watching me from a chair while I worked on my computer.  When I got up, she moved to my chair and made herself at home.

         

Case Study 001
Case Study 002

Case Study 011
Case Study 016

            

    

  In 2010, Bridgette contracted viral encephalitis; a pathogen transmitted by mosquito bites. This aggressive disease can have lasting effects. In Bridgette’s case, this resulted in some neurological swelling and though the damage to her brain was not severe, she will always have some lasting effects. Most notably, the small circles she walks when she is out of her comfort zone.

 

We try to protect all of our animals from diseases like encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and other insect borne diseases, but they still slip through on us.  Sadly, Animal facilities will not adopt an animal with any outward damage because visitors are constantly notifying staff of the cat’s “health issue’.  Although Bridgette does not have a future with a zoo or other wildlife facility, she does have a permanent home with us.  Most facilities would be required to euthanize her because she cannot be adopted and cannot be released to the wild. Lucky for  Bridgette, she has a great future here at WCCR. 

 

By making her part of our surrogacy program (being a cage-mate to multiple cats), she has a valuable place with us for the rest of her life. Should a suitable home ever come along for her, she would be considered for another location, but it would have to be the right facility with the right handlers as she is a special needs cat. 

 

She is bonded to only a very few of the staff who spend time with her.  She takes a while to get to know, and to understand, but once she trusts you, it is an unbreakable bond as anyone who works with her will attest to.

 

Bridgette is a healthy non-aggressive girl and a wonderful cage-mate for most any new cat. She suffers from Flea allergies, so we have to take extra precautions during flea season. She gets along with almost everyone, which is unusual, so her job here is to help acclimate new cats to their cages, getting them used to living with new cats and making their transition to new zoos who already have another bobcat in their enclosure much more tolerable. 

Bridgette is a dual purpose kitty here at WCCR! She is one of a handful of our cats that are a part of our research program. She is one of three “vocalizers” that we have on-site at the moment. 

A vocalizer is one of the seven personalities that we have identified who have a tendency to “talk” about everything.  Our other vocalizers, all of whom you will meet in the near future, are Zachia and Peter. 

Over the last couple of years, WCCR and NBRR have grown to an incredible size. We now have more cats on the property than ever before, and the numbers keep growing! We have great people working with us, but need sponsors to help us with funding so that we may keep pace with the demand, and continue to grow!

If you would like to help care for Bridgette, please visit our website and make a donation today!  We cannot do this alone. We are seeking individuals to sponsor each of our cats with a monthly donation!  It is imperative for us to move in this direction if we are to continue to provide for special needs cats just like Bridgette, and the many others that currently call our facility home!  ANY amount helps! For us to continue to take these wonderful cats in, we MUST find sponsors and support. Are you our next one? Keep watching for updates on even more Crosstimbers Cats!


Meet Brave Braelyn. This tough girl has been through alot, and still has a long way to go! We need your help to help her!


braelyn

Braelyn

Braelyn is our most recent intake.  She is VERY sick.  She came to us about a week ago from a ranch where they have been “removing all big cats from the property”.  We hate to hear things like this, because Bobcats should never be considered “Big Cats”, at least not down here in Texas.  Out bobcat species “Texensis” doesn’t get much bigger than a standard house cat. (22-26lbs)

For such a young kitten, Braelyn has had a tough life.   It is very clear to us that her mother was either killed or trapped and taken away.  We know that there is another kit out there that the landowners are now trying to trap so that they may be reunited.  As previously mentioned in our preface, bobkittens stay with their mothers until they are at least 10 months old.  When their mothers are trapped and taken away, they must fight to survive.  Braelyn has clearly had more than a few battles.  She came to us with her poor nose nearly missing and several deep lacerations on her little body.  She is only about 16 weeks old.  Who she has been battling with remains to be seen, but who/whatever it was, it was much bigger than she was. She is grossly underweight, so has, obviously, struggled to find food and we pray that we can find her sibling before it is too late. 

Her lacerations had become infected and she was very weak when she first arrived.  But there is good news!  As of two days ago, she had regained enough strength to crawl up into her hammock which hangs from the top of her ICU enclosure!  She had previously been unable to get up off of the floor.  She has been eating well and gaining weight every day. We continue to hope that Santa Paws will help us to find her sibling, but without further funding, we cannot hire someone to go out and assist the landowners in trying to capture it and get them back together.  If you can help, please go to our website or use the link on the side column of this blog, and donate today to help Braelyn get back on her feet and help us to hire one someone to help  put what is left of their family back together. 

Braelyn’s future is still uncertain, but we continue with positive thinking, her undying wild spirit gives us high hopes for her to be released back to the wild sometime mid-summer next year.

However, this special girl will need a lot of expensive intensive care in the weeks and months to come if she is going to make it.

She will be paired up with others of her age once back on her feet.  If her sibling joins us, they will remain together for the rest of their time here at the ranch and be released together back to the wild where they belong and on a property where they will never have to worry about being trapped, hunted or displaced. All our kitties want for christmas is somewhere safe to call home. Will you help them?


Aside

 

 

Happy Holidays Wildlife Friends!

   Now, Don’t fall over in shock, but this is Val.  As most of you know, Dawn started our Facebook page years ago, and thankfully, Kari picked up where she left off and expanded our page to include a blog. As much as I would love to be entrenched in social media, I have neither the time, nor the know-how.  However, I have been overwhelmed by the Christmas Spirit this year and wanted to make a special effort to take the time to give you the updates you have been asking for!  And, because the Christmas spirit has grabbed a hold of me, I am going to take it a step further and give you a gift!  From now until the end of the month, I am going to give you a short bio on ALL of the cats that are currently in care at the center!  And, I would like to ask all of you to add your stories, comments and experiences, if you have any, with each of the cats or at the ranch, as they are discussed.  There is a reason for this. 

 

WCCR & NBRR have grown in leaps and bounds.  Because most of our friends are not local, most have no idea what is going on out here.  We want you to know, and to SHARE with others, the GREAT work we are doing.  We also want to give you updates on the new outreach and policies we have set in place.  First, and most important, NBRR decided, two years ago, to branch out from native wildlife and begin accepting confiscated or unwanted (turned over) imprinted Bobcats.  We quickly became the largest bobcat rescue in the United States.  We are now proud to announce that we have been asked to be the first bobcat rescue to be utilized by the AZA and to be listed in their studbook!   The AZA studbook is where AZA accredited Zoos and Aquariums turn to find breeders to supply their facilities with replacement animals.  This is VERY exciting because, due to our rapidly growing national reputation, they contacted us!  We will now be able to accept, train, and supply imprinted bobcats that might otherwise be euthanized due to lack of space in exotic feline rescues.  Of course, many of these cats come to us with severe behavioral problems.  Our behavior specialists are some of the finest in the country!  Special Kudos to Kari and Deborah for their exceptional work and dedication to these very special cats!

 

     So, where to start?  My goodness! Alphabetically, I presume, would make the most sense.  Since we began this new program, cats have poured in, so you will get to hear stories about bobcats that you have never been introduced to before! And, because we have more cats than we have days left in the month, we will have to double up on most days and give you one in the morning and one in the evening! Yes, We’re THAT busy! Unfortunately, that means a HUGE burden on our dwindling funds!

 

Since we know that you didn’t know, we are hoping that you will share these stories with everyone in hopes that we find enough donations to pull us through another (exceptionally busy!) winter.

 

We hope that if you read a story that you enjoy, or that touches your heart, that you will cross-post it so that we can increase our friend base and hopefully find some corporate and/or private sponsors that we still so desperately need. 

 

It is important to note that our first love continues to be the thousands of native wild animals, including wild bobcats, who come to us for help each year. 

 

The imprinted cats are entrusted to our care and are donated by us to other non-profit educational facilities.  Our work here is critically important to the future understanding of the increasing population of urban bobcats and we continue to operate on a completely volunteer staff.  We cannot do this alone.  Please remember these beautiful animals during this holiday season and throughout the year because the next well adjusted and happy bobcat you see in a zoo throughout the United States may be from The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch.

    God Bless you all and Happiest of holidays from all of us at Crosstimbers!

 

A preface to our introductions.  Bobcats come and bobcats go around here.  Some stay for a few weeks, some stay for years.  Much depends of their ability to be released back to the wild, whether they have medical or behavioral problems, whether those problems are temporary or permanent, and how old they are when they arrive.  Each cat is given an identifying name.  We start alphabetically each year.  When we reach “Z”, we begin again.  Any bobkitten brought to us who has not already been imprinted is slated to be returned to the wild after it has reached one year of age; adults and juveniles who are not imprinted must also be at least one year old before they are released back to the wild. 

 

The reason for this is because in the wild, they will stay with their mother until they’re at least 10 months old and, literally remain kittens, emotionally, until they are at least one year old. In an urban environment, they will stay with their families even longer, sometimes for life!  Should we try to release them prior to one year old, they do not thrive and often end up being returned to us by some unsuspecting stranger who found a starving bobcat on his property.  Though the years, we have leaned to avoid this by making SURE that our cats are emotionally ready to be out on their own. 

 

We strive to ensure success as a “rewilded” animal for every creature that comes through our doors. But most, especially our beloved bobcats, are incredibly intelligent; and we must diligently strive to ensure that we do not damage their wild potential by allowing an overabundance of human interaction in their space.

 

     Our work has led us to discover, so far, seven different personality types in bobcats.  Each is as distinguishable as day and night.  Some personality types are more easily imprinted than others.  It is with those that we must be the most careful.  Others want nothing more than to be wild from the day they arrive to the day we watch them run across an open pasture to live their wild lives. There is nothing more gratifying than to release a cat back to the wild, yet, many can never go back.  Why? 

 

To answer this question, we must revisit the issue of the level of intelligence that these incredible cats posses.  These cats could easily survive in the wild, yet, they are so smart, that one they have become imprinted, they recognize where food comes from.  Many of them seek affection.  When an imprinted cat is released, it will seek out humans and approach them.  This ends up badly in 99% of these cases.  They are often shot or trapped and euthanized because they are “acting strangely”.  A few of them make it to us.  Generally, they are the ones who have collars on and have escaped from a home.  The percentage rate of an imprinted cat, as best we can figure, is only about 5%, and that is ONLY if the cat is release onto a private protected property where there are no hunters or humans to ruin their chances. Therefore, with the imprinted cats, we work closely with them to be very sure that they will be happy in a facility where they can be a liaison for their wild brothers and sisters.  As we introduce you to our current cats in care, we want you to clearly understand that our main goal is to return them to the wild, and that when that is not possible, the next best thing is to ensure a happy life with handlers who will give each cat what it needs to live a long and happy life with people who love, respect and care about these beautiful animals.  We are always happy to answer questions from anyone, so please, if you have any, let us know.  We always want the best for our charges, and when the obvious best is not attainable, then we seek the best available.  We hope you will enjoy reading about our work and support us in any way you can!

 

 

 

Angel~Face (and XYZ)

 

Each year, we struggle with naming certain alphabet letters – and this year is NO different.  We will start out our alphabetical stories with “Angel-Face” who was named after she arrived with her two brothers and one sister.  Angel-Face was EASY to name.  As often happens, she became highly stressed when she first arrived, quit eating, and became very sick.  She lost a lot of weight, so we had to pull her away from her family to get her back on her feet.  While she was separated, we named her Angel-face because she was SO curious about everything we did.  She would hide in her cat box, peek over the edge and would get the sweetest look on her face when we confused her by doing our “Human things”.  We ultimately cave her a cat box full of blankies that she could hide in while sneaking a peek at our antics.  She remained separated for about three weeks while she gained weight and her strength back.  Her brothers and sister were dubbed “X, Y & Z”.  They are STILL named X, Y & Z!  They are strong and sassy!  They talk and play constantly, but the MINUTE they see a human, they all run for cover into the nearest crate or box.   We are hoping for your help!  Will you all PLEASE help us name these other kitties?  Please post your ideas below. Human baby names have all already been used, so we want to ask you to make up unique names, for example, last year’s X, Y & Z were named Xylan, Yoda, & Zachia.  So be creative!  We need your help!

   Angel-face and her siblings are expected to be released into the wild in late summer next year.  They are as wild as they come!  They are all four living together again and are getting ready to be moved outside to the wild barn.  Out kittens stay inside until they reach about 5 months of age.  Until then, we must keep a VERY close eye on them because they can become very sick VERY fast. The stress of capture, of living without their mothers, of being in unnatural conditions, and of eating unfamiliar diets can cause a multitude of problems. The little ones are always a challenge, so we keep a very close eye on them

    These little ones arrived when they were only 5 weeks old.  I am afraid that we do not have many pictures of them as we wanted them to stay wild and therefore did not/do not approach them very often.  I took this picture the other day while hiding behind the couch.  You can see that they are all very bonded and will, likely, stay together long after they are released.

                       

 Their mother was trapped and relocated before anyone realized that she had babies.  At about 4 weeks of age, and barely walking, the little ones started peeking out of their den, one at a time, looking for their mommy.  They were hungry and frightened.  They were caught and brought to us over a period of several days.  All are finally doing really well.  There really isn’t much more to say about these guys except that they are all doing as expected and staying on track to be released, growing like weeds and staying wild!  This is our only large litter, so will be the only time you will get an update on multiple cats at one time. Don’t forget to help us name X,Y & Z!


Our urgent care case: Ulyses


The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch has received a very special guest that urgently needs your help. His name is Ulyses, and he is only ten weeks old. He has been separated from his mother and siblings, and the poor little guy has suffered some serious trauma in his short life.

Ulyses is a bobcat, and he already has a special place in the hearts of all of the staff members here at WCCR. You see, at this tender age, he has had a little altercation with a dog…that resulted in a compound fracture of his leg, and massive infection. This poor little wild one is terrified and alone, and he can’t even yet have a buddy to comfort him. For now, until his condition improves a bit, his stuffed animal is his closest companion.

The thought of this poor little guy terrified and hurting tugs at my heartstrings every time. Especially when all we can do is sit back, and support him on his journey 😦

Little Ulyses upon intake

Here at Crosstimbers, we do 90% of our medical treatment on site.

There are many reasons for this that I may go into in some future blog, but for right now, my main focus is to help this little one return to the wild. But in order to do that, I am going to have to solicit some help! To rehab a single (healthy) bobcat from kitten to release, costs more than $2,000 and over 12 months in feeding and maintenance alone. Any medical treatment or other operational care all comes at additional expense.

For Ulyses, the cost will probably be more than double that figure.

Our bestest heart bandages ❤

His tiny leg will be set in his heart emblazoned cast for at least the next six weeks, and he will need some heavy-duty antibiotics (as well as other medications) to battle the massive infection.

Supportive care will also include a special immune system supporting diet and eventually, physical therapy.

Little Ulyses had to be sedated for this procedure, so once his cast was secured, he was placed in isolation to recover from anaesthesia.

His ongoing care, rehabilitation, and physical therapy are going to be major hurdles for WCCR this year. The economy has put a squeeze on us all, and we are definitely feeling it. We are trying to raise $500 towards his ongoing care, and every cent helps.

If every person who read this blog donated just ten dollars, that total sum would mean a massive step towards going back to the wild for this amazing cat! Every bit helps! If you want to be a wildlife hero, click on that donate button on the right hand column! I know we can do this. Lets get Ulyses back to the wild, together!


Theo’s New Digs <3


As you may or may not know, Theo, our little starlet, has always had a difficult time living outside. Well, to be honest, Theo has always had a hard time! He has had so many close calls and near misses in his short life thus far, that it should come as no surprise that our little guy with such a delicate constitution would have a hard time adjusting to life outdoors.

At a certain age, it just isn’t very feasible to keep a bobcat inside. For our wildlife center, we keep our baby bobs indoors till a certain age. Just as a mother bobcat would keep her kits in their den, we keep them inside the nursery. Bobkits are quite sensitive, and need close supervision to monitor health and well-being. After they pass that certain delicate age, and they begin to grow more adventurous and rambunctious, they begin their slow transition to outdoor living, usually in preparation to becoming wild again.

Theo really is no exception, other than he would never survive release. Alas, our attempts to transition him to outdoor living were exceedingly stressful to his delicate constitution, so, he was moved back indoors for his health and safety. The one problem with this scenario is that Theo is now an energetic young bobcat, and Crosstimber’s indoor enclosures are not really suitable for longterm residency…mostly, it is our nursery, and our ICU area for our invalid residents. Neither one suits Theo any longer.

So, our director came up with the idea to create an indoor/outdoor enclosure for Theo. This would give ranch staff the ability to keep a close eye on Theo, and also provide him with the space he needs. One of our awesome staff members designed and built a wonderful enclosure for Theo.

Of course, he had a little help

And of course, in true Crosstimbers Wildlife fashion, the entire thing was built out of reclaimed lumber.

It was specially selected and designed for Theo’s comfort, and has a great view overlooking the turtle garden!

Once it was complete, it was painted a lovely shade of green, and Theo was out exploring it in no time!

That is the face of one happy bobcat!

The best part is, that great window in his enclosure serves as a causeway for him to come and go into the temperature controlled building! Soon it will have a more permanent door 🙂


Bobcat meets house cat <3


Hey guys, check out this way cool video of a bobcat meeting with a house cat through the sliding glass door ❤ Not the reaction most people have in their minds when they think of house pets and predators, but very typical behavior of this beautiful feline 🙂

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7406326n


There’s a bobcat on my patio/in my yard! How do I get rid of it?!


Okay guys, fair warning, this is gonna be a long one!

I get asked this question on a regular basis. My response is always the same. I ask the concerned party why they want this animal removed from it’s home. They cite numerous fears for their reasoning. “Won’t it attack my pets? Won’t it attack my children/grand children?” The answer is no. No, a bobcat is not a blood thirsty monster waiting to pounce on the first human it sees. No, it does not want to work hard enough to try to catch your dog/cat.

Of course, common sense in good measures is always reasonable when dealing with any wildlife. Cats and dogs should always be supervised outside. Just remember, the house you chose to live in because of it’s beautiful trees, manicured grass, and great lot size (not to mention the great pond with a walking path just around the corner) are all the same reasons that the bobcat chose it to be her home too.

Here’s a little food for thought. Chances are, her and her family were there first (and have been for generations! They thank you for that beautiful hardwood deck with the open bottom, the great storage shed with a concrete floor that makes it feel soo much cooler in these hot Texas summers, that wonderful privacy fence lined with dense, low growing shrubs that offers so much security and seclusion, and the absolutely inviting koi pond with the bench swing that you love so much! They thank you for providing them with protection, security, habitat for them and their prey, and a steady water source!).

Just remember, wildlife is attracted to the same things we are. Privacy, safety, food, water, and shelter. The only way to prevent wildlife from living in “your space” is to move into a concrete bunker…and even then, I’m sure the geckos and spiders will be more than happy to hang out at your place! It is impossible and impractical to remove all wildlife from “your territory”. Instead, what I personally strive to do is encourage wildlife that are beneficial for my goals while simultaneously discouraging wildlife that does the opposite.

Here’s a fun example. How much money do you spend on watering and fertilizing your beautiful lawn and landscaping every month? A lot, huh? Have you considered inviting creatures that already specialize in landscaping? Providing native bees and butterflies with nectar plants (and food plants for caterpillars!) along side your carefully selected asthetic plants will attract these guys to your yard and keep your landscaping looking beautiful year after year. These guys will pollinate your flowers and help you cultivate your garden! Providing plants like white cabbage and passion vine will just keep them coming back as the butterflies look for food plants to lay their eggs on and nectar plants to keep their energy up!

I have an irregular awkward little spot in my yard that is hard to do anything with….it’s hard to mow due to it’s odd shape, it’s quite far away from the sprinkler system, and from the house making it hard to water, so instead of trying to make it look lush and green like the rest of my lawn, I plowed it up, and turned it into a low water butterfly/veggie garden. I surrounded my nectar plants with food plants for my caterpillars, and sprinkled them amongst my veggies and fruits. It is never touched by pesticides or fertilizers (or any other harsh chemicals) and It works beautifully!

Want another example? How many of you out there pay for pest control services? Incorporating self sustaining habits into your lifestyle could help you live more comfortably with the wildlife around you! I live on 3/4 of an acre, in a heavily wooded neighborhood (in my yard alone, there are over 100 trees). I also keep chickens, compost green materials from my kitchen, and keep cords of firewood outside for winter. This can attract some unwanted wildlife in the form of rats, mice, snakes, and roaches. My solution? provide habitat for my local opossums! I love opies! And I would love to tell you why!

Most people see a Virgina opossum, and they describe them as pointy nosed, beady eyed,naked tailed, over-grown rats. I have to say, I can’t really disagree…they aren’t the most beautiful creatures out there, but I LOVE seeing them in my yard! (and if you give them a chance, those beady eyes may just grow on ya a little!). Isn’t Willow just darling?

Remember those creepy crawlies I mentioned a minute ago? Rats, mice, snakes, and roaches? Can you guess what some of an opie’s favorite foods are? You got it. SO, by providing plenty of sheltered spots and a bowl of water on my back porch for my ugly little friends, I cut down on large numbers of the afore-mentioned! Best of all, I didn’t pay hundreds of dollars for some guy in a haz-mat suit to spray all kinds of harsh chemicals all over the yard and house where kids and animals play! WIN!

BONUS: you people that fear snakes, pay attention! the only snake venom that affects opossums is coral snake venom! Opossums are IMMUNE to snake venom! Translation: Opossums can eat almost every snake found in Texas.

I may or may not have mentioned it on this blog before, but as well as being a behavioral specialist for The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch, I work as an Animal Services Officer for a major city in North Texas. I am certified by the state of Texas to carry the title of Officer. The benefit of wearing two hats is the ability to tell you what happens on both sides of the story! That, and I often get to give the wildlife that ends up at our shelter a fresh start. I don’t like seeing healthy adult wildlife come into the shelter. There is no reason for it. At best, it is frivolously exposing these animals un-necessary stress, and every disease known to animal kind. There is one upside for me though! I get to release lots of healthy adult opossums (after a period of quarantine and conditioning! Don’t try this without proper training…survival rates for animals of any species that are nothing more than relocated are abysmal, and cause a multitude of other problems in the habitat if not done properly) at my house to chow down on the excess of rats and snakes that love living in my wooded area!

Okay, okay, some of you are thinking “I don’t want that ugly disease carrying animal in my yard!”…admit it, you’re thinking it! Well, let me put a wide spread opossum myth to rest for you. Contrary to seemingly popular belief, opossums are not carriers for rabies! Let me say that again. Opossums are NOT carriers for rabies! Now, some of you may be thinking “what does she know? she’s just a dirty, tree hugging, dog catching hippy! Any nocturnal animal active during the day must be sick, probably with rabies!”

Well, I do raise chickens, I compost, I recycle, and I do love animals, but by no means am I uneducated in my profession! Remember the pesky state of Texas? they keep harping on me to know stuff for some reason! Don’t believe me? Our very good friends at the DFW Wildlife Coalition agree! http://www.dfwwildlife.org/opossum.html Arm yourself with education! ❤

Let me temper my previous statement by saying that there have been known cases of rabies in opossums, but they are exceedingly rare. I want to make sure you absorb all of what I am saying, so I will repeat. Cases of rabies in opossums are so exceedingly rare that they cannot be considered carriers for the virus. Known cases of rabies in opossums are under bizarre circumstances in which the virus has been introduced directly into the brain tissue necessary for the virus to replicate. The reason? Well, we aren’t quite sure, but our best guess is that the opossum’s primitive makeup (it’s nervous system [ the channels the virus would take to enter the brain ] is not as developed and connected as modern mammals) and oddly low body temperature actually offers it some manor of protection from the virus. Actually, for this same reason, opossums are not really carriers of any diseases…they even enjoy immunity from dog and cat ailments like distemper! Not a bad trade off for such a short lifespan!

Key points! Pay your opies in shelter and water, and they will do your clean-up for you! Their services are effective for long term use, and incorporate all natural ingredients, free of charge!

What if the wildlife you are dealing with isn’t a prey animal but a predator? Well, I have examples for that scenario too! First, ask yourself why you want that animal removed. For me, it was a fox. She was absolutely gorgeous! Stunningly beautiful coat, very large individual. She had taken up residence under my shed. Over the course of several months, she thinned down my flock of 15 chickens down to four! I couldn’t let my girls free range and forage anymore due to this very persistent predator. The most frustrating part was that she was killing three or four chickens at a time, just to kill them. She was not eating them, just playing with them. The final straw was when she swiped my tiny frizzled bantie named Karma, and then took some chickens from my neighbors…young kids that I had given some chickens to. She had to go.

Why did I wait four months to do something about this animal? It was spring time, and I feared that she had kits under my shed that would perish without their mother. Fair is fair, and I had invited her into my yard by providing her with the perfect den, and easy access to food and water for her kits. But, now it was time for her to go! I could not have her ruining my young neghbor’s experience of raising backyard chickens!

What did I do? Well, I trapped my fox, and did something I am all too familiar with…I strapped on some elbow pads, and crawled under that shed! It was not a pleasant experience, but I found that my darling fox was not providing for kits. So, I sealed off the bottom of my shed using 3/4inch hardware cloth, a staple gun, and some landscaping bricks to make it look pretty, sprung the trap, and watched that beautiful animal bound away. I have not seen her since, and have not lost any chickens since then.

We humans seem to have this rather deep rooted fear of anything predator. Most of the predators we deal with here in Texas are going to be no bigger than a bobcat or a fox. At the largest, they are around twenty pounds…that’s about the size of a cocker spaniel if you need a size reference. The chances of an animal that small being tenacious enough to take on a kid or a dog are extremely minimal. Bobcats (and foxes) are not terribly brave, especially not the ones we deal with here in urban settings. They would not waste the energy on something so large. Bunnies and squirrels (and the occasional chicken! grumble grumble!) are more their speed.

So just sit back, relax, and enjoy your urban wildlife! If it isn’t being a nuisance, get it to work to your advantage (or just enjoy the eye candy!), if it IS, talk to us! We can help you find practical ways to resolve the problem! Not every wild animal needs to be “fixed” by a rehabber!


Critical Times


Since the beginning of the year, WCCR has been struggling to keep it’s doors open, and struggling to continue accepting animals that need us. We have held on for what seems like a very long time. We vainly attempted to raise significant amounts of money to purchase our current location, or to help us move, and build cages without success.

I have tried to buy multiple properties to house us, and so far have been unsuccessful in that venture as well. It seems like every offer we make falls through for one reason or another. I fear that we may not be able to hold on much longer. The economy is still slumping, and donors have become exceedingly scarce. Running the largest wildlife center in the region out of our own pockets, and with a completely volunteer staff is nearly impossible. We have been watching other wildlife organizations close their doors left and right this season, and we are trying not to follow suit. Our cries for help and support have fallen on deaf ears, and we are at the mercy of time. Time is not on our side anymore.

The animal we have chosen to continue accepting is the North American Bobcat. We are one of a very small handful of supporters available for this amazing predator, and if we close our doors, they lose a significant player in their protection and advocacy. Not only will they suffer, but our education program will be brought to it’s knees. I have been saying for months that we are struggling, and always by some small miracle, we are able to hang on a while longer, but we cannot keep this up. I need more time. I am sure I can find the right property, but I need time. And time costs money. Lots of it. Lots of money that we do not have.

We have had some amazing successes this year, breaking our record in the numbers of babies we work with, pulling little Theo back from the brink over and over again, and some really great release stories. Do you remember the two siblings trapped by cock fighters? Tormented and traumatized, until they were awarded to us? They tasted freedom again; they were delivered from the evils of people through the compassion of better people. Wonderful people. People just like you who made their freedom possible again. The release of these lucky souls can be seen through the link on the upper right hand corner of your screen. It is entitled “Crosstimbers Bobcat Release”.

All of these stories exist because this organization exists. But we cannot keep existing without a little help. Rehabbing a baby bobcat costs an average of $2,000 or more. Right now, we have more than 20 in our release program alone. That is not including the non-release program cats. WCCR wants to continue saving and protecting these wonderful cats, but we need your help. As little as $20 makes a huge impact for a 501(c)3 like ours.

I know people hate being asked for money, but my mother always told me that all you can do is ask. And so, I am asking. I have been trying to raise $5,000 for Crosstimbers, and so far have been pitifully unsuccessful. So, my dear readers, I am asking. Can you contribute $20 dollars to my cause? I want nothing more in the world than to see Crosstimbers spread it’s wings. I believe in this organization, it’s goals, and it’s values. The only way to ensure the success of our planet is through supporting organizations that put environment, conservation, biodiversity, and education at the forefront of every aspect of their organization. If you can find it in your heart and your wallet to part with $20 dollars, it would mean the world to one of the most amazing grassroots organizations in Texas.

http://www.causes.com/causes/577450-the-wildlife-center-at-crosstimbers-ranch


Conclusion of the Murphy Meeting


Tonight, several groups got together at Murphy, Tx City Hall. In-Sync Exotics, the Holifield Science Learning center, and of course, yours truly. The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch/National Bobcat Rescue and Research foundation. The DFW Wildlife Coalition was supposed to be represented, as were a few other groups who were unable to attend.

It was a great meeting. Valeri gave a great informative presentation on bobcats, and the attendees were really interested, and asked some really great questions!

We got some really great information out there tonight! Thank you for all of the wonderful people who attended, and all the really great questions about one of our favorite animals! The more we can change the incorrect perceptions about the North American Bobcat and other similar species, the more positive change we can make in our world!

I feel very positive about this meeting, and I am so glad that the City of Murphy hosted this really wonderful discussion. Thank you, City of Murphy! Keep up the great work! The only way to change how bobcats (and any other wildlife) are handled is to inform people, citizens and law enforcement alike, about the options out there. Not only that, but to arm people with accurate information on this animal’s behavior, habitat, and activities, and the importance of acceptance of not only prey animals, but predators as well to maintain a natural balance, even in our urban environments. Removing wildlife from it’s natural habitat is not the solution.

The only way we are going to be able to do this is to continue to dispel fears associated with predators through discussions like this one. No, a 30lb bobcat is not going to carry away your small child, no, a bobcat does not randomly attack small pets, and no, they are not aggressive animals that attack without reason.

I feel one small step closer to the general public accepting that not only is removing and relocating an animal just because you saw it in your yard a bad idea, but that in fact, it may be beneficial to allow the animal to remain in its home.

To all the wonderful citizens and city officials who attended this meeting, I thank you, and hope that the information presented here was informative and helpful to increase understanding of our urban (and rural) wildlife.


Hello Hoover


Hoover is our oldest resident. Hoover and his brother Kirby set the wheels for WCCR in motion. This year, Hoover is nine years old. His brother Kirby was placed in an AZA accredited facility www.aza.org along with another bobcat from Crosstimbers.

Many cats come here. The ones not suitable for release often move on to other facilities where they can become ambassadors for their amazing species.

When Hoover was little, he and his brother Kirby suffered from toxoplasmosis http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/. Their bout with this parasite left lingering affects. In Kirby, his vision was affected. In Hoover, his balance. Both of these senses are essential for a wild bobcat to thrive. Kirby is well suited to his current environment. Hoover remains here with us. Our gentle old man. Hoover sees himself as a six-week old kitten. He thinks he is still tiny, and that if he jumps into your arms, you should be there to catch him. he loves new scents, and new people, and basically ignores his keepers.

For Crosstimbers, Hoover reminds us why we open our doors to these under protected, misunderstood animals. He is gentle, quiet, and well-loved by all who know him. He is also our most photogenic cat, and loves his room-mate, Lenny!

Bobcats can live more than 30 years in captivity. here is wishing Hoover many more long, happy, healthy years!


the “Why Impulse ‘Pets’ are a Bad Idea” Soap Box – a.k.a. update on Theo!


Little Theo has long passed the intensive hourly care he needed when he arrived, and has shown tremendous improvement from that sad little kitten on the verge of death that found sanctuary and strength in Crosstimbers, but for some reason, when we get these little critical babies in, they always seem to remain more compromised and more fragile than their counterparts who show up on our door step in good health. We have to fight to keep these little ones sound and healthy, and Theo has been no exception.

Though he has a tremendous appetite, Theo is quite small for his age, and slight of build in comparison to the younger kittens that are almost as big as he is. He runs and plays just like all the others, but he needs just a little more intense supervision and monitoring than they.

From the night he arrived at Crosstimbers, the fight for his life has been a constant battle. From the hour to hour care he needed to overcome severe dehydration, emaciation, and pneumonia, to th hypoglycemia scare when he was weaning, to calcium problems expressed in the odd over growth of his baby teeth, and then the severe tooth infection he experienced while learning about the consumption of whole raw foods (im talking his face so swollen that our vet and our keepers feared that the swelling might close off his wind pipe and prevent him from breathing without a strong regime of meds to keep the swelling down), it seems that at each new milestone we reach, Theo has yet another hiccup to overcome. We are there for him every step of the way. Experienced vet techs, animal husbandry specialists, and our staff vet all keep a close watch over this little guy.

As he grows and we continue to track his health trends, we are always concerned that this will be a constant throughout Theo’s life, and without the support of his very own medical team in his wild world, the question becomes whether his health allows him to be a candidate for release. Intensive treatment after treatment only further imprints him on humans.

Who knows? One day, Theo may tell us that he is ready to be wild. He is young yet. We will continue to monitor his health, and he may yet have a chance to be wild again. Then again, he may follow Quincey’s path, and tell us that he will never be ready to face the wild world like he was always meant to. The saddest part in Theo’s story is that this all could have been prevented with a little fore-thought from those who found him.

Bobcats are extremely sensitive creatures, and can be very hard to raise. Especially random babies found abandoned by their mothers. The amount of lasting damage done to Theo’s little body by his stay in the hands of his discoverers is unknown. All we can do is use our experience with this animal to support and guide him through this journey we call life.

For now, Theo remains happy, health, and playful. He enjoys life, and is lucky to have found himself under the watchful eyes of WCCR.


Dillo in a well


 

So as Jade and I were walking some property, prospecting a new location for the ranch, we came across an old, dry, uncovered well. 

The kind of people we are, we had to stop and check it out. As we began to look down it, we noticed claw marks on the moss on the walls.

To our amazement, there was a nine banded armadillo curled up in the bottom. We located a very long branch (the well is more than ten feet deep), and touched him with it to see if he was still alive. The poor startled creature jumped up and grunted.

 

 “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do?!” we both thought about it, and grabbed the catch pole I carry in my car, and a couple of leashes, hoping to lower it down and tighten it around his middle and haul him up. To our amazement, it worked. we were able to pull the poor armadillo most of the way out of the well, but when I reached up to tighten the pole just a little more, the armadillo’s slippery armor slid through the loop on the end of the pole and he fell nearly ten feet back to the bottom of the well. It was a horrible, sinking feeling…who else is going to bother to pull an armadillo out of an old well in the middle of nowhere?

By this time, it was getting dark, and we were unable to continue trying. The next day, we intended to come back with a latter and an animal crate. Well, unfortunately, none of our buddies with trucks were available, and the latter wouldn’t fit in our tiny cars. So, we had to go with plan B…bring the dillo food and water until we can get him out of the well. We grabbed some shallow light weight dishes, mealworms, and a bottle of water. Once at the well, we dropped the dish of mealworms down, and the second dish down empty. We filled it with water, and left him again.

Well, as you know, we all have “real” jobs outside of our volunteer work with WCCR….soooo, Jade and I were not able to return to save him today. Lucky for us, our director could! She took the ranch truck and a little help, and my text message directions….I thought she would never find it from my directions, but she did! Here is our fearless director, Valeri, climbing out of the well, bringing our little armadillo to freedom!

Thank goodness for armadillos tough tails! This may look harsh, but this was the safest way for both armadillo, and rescuer in this situation, and trust me, the armadillo isn’t even phased by it. Armadillos have strong, powerful tails, and strong, powerful bodies. They often “jump” by popping up into a ball to fend off predators. By carrying him by his strong tail, it minimizes the chance that he will use this instinctual defense potentially ending up in injury for rescuer and armadillo on the way back out of the well (by the way, unless you are trained in handling armadillos, I do NOT recommend this).

And this is why, my friends, we always cover up old wells. What if this armadillo had been a small child? This well is not visible from any public locations, and the nearest neighbors are acres away. This well is obviously large enough for a grown individual to get in to. That is a ten foot latter that Valeri is using to climb out of the well.

For now, the armadillo was brought to safety at the ranch, and the well will be covered to protect any other critters from meeting their demise alone in a dark hole in the ground. Go wildlife warriors! lol


Toyota 100 Cars for Good Vote Date


So yesterday was our vote date for the Toyota 100 cars for good promotion. We have all been waiting in anticipation for the results. Unfortunately, The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch did not win the badly needed truck. Here’s hoping that our old truck holds out a while longer! Unfortunately, we just do not have a spare $15,000 to buy another used one.

WCCR was up against larger, better funded organizations, and we were hoping that our small, volunteer run wildlife center would be able to go up against these huge centers, but today just was not our time!

Congratulations to the day 74 winner! Cascades Raptor Center! http://www.eraptors.org/ I hope your new hybrid Toyota Highlander is everything you dreamed!

As for WCCR? Well, we are still looking at a HUGE move! I have found the property, I have submitted an offer, and we are just waiting to hear some good news back! I am anxious to hear news…we really need to start building cages so that we can move the bobcats off of the property (and there are perfect locations for it!). The current ranch cannot go on the market until the animals are removed.

Cages are going to cost us though. Each enclosure at the ranch is thousands of dollars. Most of them are not mobile, and cannot go with us. That means we are going to be doing some major scraping to get enough money and materials (and relying on donations continuing to come in!) together to get this done!

I am sad that one of my favorite enclosures will not be going with us. This is one of our larger enclosures, and so cute!

We use this enclosure for our pre-release bobcats. I have caught and transported many cats out of this enclosure. I am going to miss it. I am also going to miss the beautiful WCCR grounds behind the ranch house. The property we are hoping to move to is much smaller, but it is heavily treed. I just do not think I am going to get photos like these.

 

Who knows? Maybe there will be equally  beautiful areas of this new property to take photos of…I sure am going to miss the WCCR grounds though. That 11 acre ranch will always be in my memory.

Fingers crossed for smooth sailing and good news soon! It would be nice to catch a break once in a while!


New possible location for WCCR


Our likelihood of moving is becoming more real every day. The director and I have been looking at properties all over east of Dallas. We have found one that I am in love with, and that is perfect for the center. It is smaller (not quite five acres), but it is much less expensive, and very suitable for what we would like to do with it.

We are in discussions with our realtor now. This move means cages, and truck loads of stuff that will need to be moved. I am apprehensive that with our current money issues that this is going to be exceedingly difficult. Our largest enclosure at the ranch cost over $5,000 to build. The smaller ones, $2,500 a piece. We have three of those. There are other enclosures as well. All similar in price. This doesn’t just mean monies to purchase materials, but costs of hauling those materials, and labor to build the new enclosures.

I have been trying to raise some funds for the move, and for the supplies that we are running through, but it is difficult to raise the amount of funding we need. I sent out a call for help on Facebook asking for assistance raising $1,000 to cover the cost of Theo’s $600.00  ransom, medical bills, and fresh supplies of much-needed bobcat formula and was able to raise $150.00 from three people, and I am eternally grateful to those wonderful people who answered the call for help, but we just need more. I do not know if I am just asking too often, or if there just isn’t enough people left in the world who understand the importance of our stewardship of our one and only earth, or the fact that ecological diversity (meaning balance of not just prey animals and plants, but predators too) equals ecosystem health.

Part of the issues we face here at WCCR is the misconceptions about the species we work with. The moment I stepped into that enclosure with Fidget for the very first time, my eyes were open to an incredible new realization about how judgemental humans are towards subjects of which we have no knowledge base. As one who has always desired to share my life with animals, and hope that animals allowed me the privilege of sharing a glimpse of their world, I make it a habit of reserving my opinion until the time that I possess the knowledge and perspective to develop one.

Fidget gave me that opportunity. He taught me secrets that I craved to learn. He let me in to his elusive world, and showed me the folly and stupidity of the human creature in painfully apparent ways. I can certainly say that very few people in the United States, or even the world, have first hand/extensive experience with bobcats.

That does not stop people from perpetuating false “truths” about them. Ask yourself, what do you truly know about this wild cat? If you were like me before I began my journey here, probably not much. What do they eat? How much? How often? How long do they live? How many offspring do they have? How often do they reproduce? WHAT IS THEIR BEHAVIOR LIKE? This is probably the most important question out of all of them, and the only one that you cannot find in the clinical texts that will give you the answers to all the others (if you find a good one with accurate information).

So why then, do people fear and hate them? I have asked myself this many times. I still do not have the answer to this question. To my best guess, I feel that people can relate to other creatures in which they see themselves. In other words, if a person can find a human trait in another life form, they are more likely to form a subconscious bond that allows them to see that creature in a favorable light.

Why do people find raccoons cute rather than dangerous and destructive? Because raccoons have hands that resemble our own, consume a similar (omnivorous) diet, and possess movement similar to that of a human.

Working at the London Zoo, I found that guests who visited our squirrel monkey enclosure often had the desire to reach out and touch the adorable little monkeys. Those very same guests would fearfully run in the butterfly exhibit to escape being lited on by the insect. So why would someone desire to reach for an animal that carries hepatitis, yet run from a non-threat like a butterfly? Because they can relate themselves to the monkey. He has a similar facial structure and bodily articulation, hands as opposed to paws, and a reasonably upright posture.

The insect on the other hand, is a non-hominoid animal that possesses no resemblance to a person. They have two more limbs, wings, compound eyes, and no hands, paws, or face to speak of. There is nothing relatable in that animal for the human viewing it, which seems to equal fear.

What does that have to do with The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch? There is a point, I promise! The bobcat has virtually no similarities to a human physically. They are true carnivores (which, in its self instills fear into people. We could get into a huge evolutionary role lecture here, but that is a story for another day. By the way, dogs are NOT true carnivores.), they move in a four-legged articulation, rarely to never standing on their back feet, they do not possess hands, basically, the closest thing they have to a relatable feature is eyes set on the front of the face, and not to the sides of the head.

I do not know if this has anything to do with the lack of donors, or if it has more to do with the fact that because of the nature of our work, we are not a public facility. Not being able to have something for people to come look at makes it harder to find those much-needed donations. I have said it many times. There is no funding available for the kind of work we do. Everything that we do is through donations. Right now, we are really hurting for financial contribution. It makes this move unsettling at the least. We have so much to do, and so much to move, and so many lives that are about to be transitioning, human and animal.

I am excited, and fearful, and frustrated. I wanted so badly for this to work. I did not want to have to uproot the whole ranch, but we just could not find the money we needed to stay. This move gives us the opportunity for a fresh start, but money is a big worry for me. These enclosures, hauling materials, moving shop is going to be costly, and so far, I have not been successful in finding the donations we need to make this a smooth process.


financial frustration


I spend a good portion of my time soliciting donations through this blog. I hate having to do it, but there is just not any funding available for the work that we do. We are a non-profit with no funding provided to us except through donations from amazing, wonderful people like you.

Most of this comes out of our own pockets, and there is never enough. The staff that come out here and work their tails off every day do so in a volunteer capacity. As much as I hate asking for money, and as much as I am sure you hate hearing about it, right now, crosstimbers could really use some support.

More and more kittens are coming in. Our formula supply is literally a partial container left over from last season that we pulled out of the freezer. We have not had enough donations to buy a new container, and we are out of formula. Theo’s unexpected ransom of $600.00 did not help the situation any. We are desperately trying to raise $1,000 to cover the purchase price of Theo’s life, medical expenses, and bobcat formula. Some very kind supporters have donated $150.00 total through our causes page (a facebook app) http://www.causes.com/causes/577450-the-wildlife-center-at-crosstimbers-ranch?m=44782e4b today, but we have a long way to go to reach our goal.

As little as $5.00 through the donate button on this blog will be a huge step towards the much-needed finances we are trying to recoup. Through the provided causes link, the minimum donation is $10.00, if you could spare it, it would be an amazing help to an incredible group of hard-working people, and the incredible animals they work so hard for.

Right now, we have six baby bobcats that are nowhere near weaning, and more likely to come in. Our older babies are transitioning to raw diet, but the supplements that we add to their diet every day are pricey as well. If you have been following, you know that we are strongly considering moving to a less expensive property. Since I began keeping this blog, we have been exploring ways to continue keeping WCCR open. We are getting down to the wire, and starting to feel the financial burden we knew was coming. When we move, the initial finances needed will be quite large. We are looking at all new enclosures, at least five of them, at around $3,000 a piece. That is a total of $15,000 immediately, unless we can get some large quantity donations of rolls of wire mesh and pressure treated lumber pretty quickly.

The crosstimbers account is dry, and we are not sure how we are going to raise that kind of money in the time frame that we have left. For now, I am trying to raise this relatively small amount of $1,000 to help WCCR keep going for just a little while longer. If you want to be a part of something huge, and show your support for wildlife, conservation, and the natural world, and can spare it, any donations would be wonderfully appreciated.


impulse decissions and other human vices


One of the hardest parts of our job is counter balancing the impulse reaction in humans to nurture the things that they find.

Yesterday, we received a call on a bobkitten near corpus cristi that was found on the side of a road. Instantly, I was hopeful that it was Nadia’s age. Her social compass directs her strong bonding instinct towards others of her own species, and she needs the influences of some adoptive siblings very badly! Eagerly, I got the information from our director, and contacted the wonderful people who found him (yes, it’s a “him”, but I will get to that part of my story in just a minute <3).

I asked them the basic info we needed to coordinate his pickup. While we were working out the details, she mentioned that there was another individual in the next town over, and she too had found a bobcat kitten. She gave me her name and number, and asked that I talk to her because this individual was planning to talk to her husband about “keeping it for as long as they could”. I called, and left a brief message, and shortly called back. Unfortunately, I ended up having to leave another voicemail. Brokenheartedly, I began preparing a triage kit in the case we were going to pick up another critical like Nadia. I was hoping the lady with kitten #2 would contact me back, but during the 12 hour round trip journey, I never got a response.

The wonderful people who found Marley had already been talking to our director, and they followed her advice to the letter! They did all of the things rehabbers dream that people would do when they find an animal! Marley is in nearly perfect shape, and the thing I am most excited about? Can you guess???? He is the perfect age for Nadia!!!!! Thanks to these wonderful, sharp, heroic people, Marley has an excellent start in our rehab program. It will make his stay here at the ranch easier on us, but most importantly, it will make his stay in our program easier on him.

One of the ideals we constantly stress here at the wildlife center is that we never ever attempt to take the wild out of the animal. Even though some of the animals that find refuge here at WCCR will never be released, the animals we work with are, and always will be wild. Keeping that in mind, during our very long journey to the small town to meet Marley for the first time, I found myself broken-hearted over the 2nd kitten. I always think how unfair it is that Quincey in all his goofy, light-hearted, live life to the fullest attitude will never know the life he was always meant to lead, and though I have never laid eyes on this second kitten, I find myself discovering the same sadness for this little one.

I admit, bobkittens are the most adorable little creatures, and the thrill and awe of holding this tiny creature in your hands, like so many other experiences with these animals, is indescribable. The impulse to nurture and lavish it with love and attention is commanding. I can understand the pull and appeal of wanting to keep one of these fuzzy little balls of adorableness, but I cannot understand the selfishness associated with it.

When you make the decision to bring a pet into your home, usually, you plan for it. You pick out the food you want to feed it, the crate it will sleep in, where it will potty, where it will stay, where you will feed it, and how you will train it. If it is a pet that is outside the normal scope of what people keep as companion animals, you spend your time researching it’s housing, dietary, and habitat needs. All before you add this new member to your family. By happening across this random bobkitten, and just deciding to keep it because it is so fuzzy and cute, you have no idea what you are getting yourself into.

Bobcats in captivity are a 30+ year commitment. That alone hopefully would help some people rethink ownership of one. Lets imagine that you, my dear reader, have found a baby bobcat, and you are now faced with the decision to keep the baby, or do the right thing and contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Wild caught babies may already be carrying zoonotic diseases (this means they can SHARE them with you!), or may just be very sick, or exposed to something that is about to make them sick (stress of sudden captivity after becoming orphaned often causes them to come down with something). Do you know what to do if the kitten is sick? Do you know what to feed it, how to house it, how often to feed it?

How do you deal with it as it grows? How much space will it need? Do you have the financial resources to raise a predator? That means building him a LARGE enclosure that will keep him in (sturdy means expensive!), paying for food, and lets face it, meat is the most expensive grocery item most of us buy. Can you pay for 70+ pounds of meat a week? Especially keeping in mind that as kittens, they eat a lot more. Since it is a raw diet, and you are feeding a growing kitty, supplements are going to be indispensable. Calcium, vitamins, and minerals are all essential, and all must be given in the correct amounts. But lets back up for a moment. In this scenario, we are imagining that you have gotten your hands on a kitten around Marley’s age. That means he/she will still be on formula. Can you afford the proper formula for your kitten?

Even the multi-species (read: incorrect for any species, and can lead to malnutrition and death of certain species) formulas available at the pet store are very expensive, but in order to provide the proper nutrients and protein/fat balance to promote proper growth and development, a species specific formula is absolutely required. A good species specific formula will run you about $13.00 for a single pound. Trust me, a pound of formula does not a kitten raise.

If money is not an issue for you, and you still want to raise this little fuzzy baby, the next thing to consider is how to get it to eat. Marley is old enough that he is already accustom to mother’s milk. He had no desire to eat the formula we offered him. It takes an experienced hand to get the kitten to make the switch from momma to surrogate after he has had such a long time to bond with her. Even without that time with momma, it is difficult to teach the baby how to nurse, or to accept formula that is not momma’s milk. You must have the proper nipple and bottle combined with experienced technique to get the baby to nurse without aspirating (inhaling the formula into it’s lungs). If the baby aspirates, and treatment is not immediate, the baby is at very high risk of death from pneumonia.

Could you handle the heartbreak of loosing this tiny creature that you have taken on complete responsibility for? Many of these babies die a slow, painful, and most of all, completely unnecessary death because of the selfish decision of a person who has found it to attempt raising it on their own. Even if they raise the poor lonely baby past this stage, they have almost certainly ruined the poor little one who at this point not only has no social skills as far as bobcats are concerned, it lacks hunting skills, and on top of all of this, turns to people for comfort, and therefore, for its own safety and life, can never be released.

These animals are WILD. They are not engineered like our family pets to be perfect additions to our homes. They have special dietary and emotional needs. You cannot force them to fit into your home like a dog or a cat. YOU are the one who must compromise to meet their needs. Many times, by the time these guys are six to eight months old, we get calls that the family would like to relinquish the animal to us because they no longer know how to handle them.

These guys are the most unfortunate of all. You do not experience any adverse effects, but the cat certainly does. If he is released, fearless of people, aggressive when he doesn’t get his way, he will be killed as soon as he comes in contact with another human. He will be left unable to bond with other bobcats due to lack of socialization, if sent to sanctuary, wrenched from the only family he has ever known once his behaviors become an unpredictable mystery, and the very worst part of all of this is the fact that this once proud, once WILD animal will be resigned to live out the rest of his very long life in a cage. legalities of owning one of these creatures is a whole-nother issue.

Please, if you or someone you know has found a baby bobcat and is considering keeping it, remember Quincey. How fair is it for a cat of sound mind and body to be forced to live his life in a box? Allow this bobcat the freedom to fulfill the desires of his wild spirit. Set him up for success on the wings of WCCR. Let us teach him to be wild again, and to fulfill the purpose he was destined for.


Update on Nadia :)


I know ya’ll have been dying for updates on Nadia, so here you go! Nadia is doing amazingly well! In five days, she has more than doubled her weight, and her head now looks more porportionate to her body. She is even eatting on her own (yep, thats food on her nose)!

Nadia has proven that she has quite the personality! She is fiery and brave, and full of herself! She still needs the reassurance that all babies need, but we are amazed at her complete transformation!  She is not out of the woods yet, and we hope that she continues this phenominal improvement. She will still need constant monitoring and careful observation, but she is eatting and drinking, and pottying on her own!

Nadia is very lucky. Tragically, we never had any luck locating any of her siblings, and hold out little hope that they survived. This is an unfortunate part of the human affect on the natural world, and part of the affect that as wildlife rehabilitators, we attempt to counter balance. It is our hope that in the coming weeks, we will recieve calls on other bobcat kittens so that Nadia will have others to bond to and play with.

She is still showing signs of the stress from her recent past. For now, we must maintain the delicate balance of supporting her social and psychological needs without crossing the line into imprinting her on people. We must maintain the purity of her wild instincts and allow her to flourish in our care without becoming dependant on us.

A huge thank you to every one of Nadia’s Angels. Your donations make her continued recovery possible. Thank you for becoming a part of something really big, and helping WCCR give wild life a hand. What we do is not possible without you.

If you are interested in becoming one of Nadia’s Guardian Angels, the donate buttons on the right hand side of this page are set up to go directly into Nadia’s Angels fund throughout the duration of her intensive care. Your donations drive Nadia’s daily improvement.


WCCR on Cafe Press


I have been wanting to make T-shirts for WCCR available for a while now, and Valeri mentioned Cafe Press to me. Sooo…I started creating designs, and opened a cafe press store front. I think I have around eight designs now…I am still deciding which ones I want to keep, and wether or not I want to make different ones.

Anyway, I went ahead and ordered one of the designs I made…partially because I am curious as to how it is going to look, and partly because I thought it was super cute.

Do you remember the story about little CaRo I posted a few days ago? This is the same picture I used in that post. Cute, huh? You too can own one of these adorable bags! ❤ You choose a design, and the product you want, and they will create it for you, and send it out to you. The very best part about it? WCCR gets part of the proceeds! I think that is completely awesome! Don’t want a tote bag? How about a fitted T-shirt for you ladies out there?

Or a mug, or a bumper sticker, or a wall clock! There are tons of items, and all of them can have any of the WCCR designs on them you want! I am really pleased with the process so far…here’s to hoping I continue being pleased with the purchasing process! Okay, I couldn’t resist! One more picture!

How cute is that? It’s a [bob]cat chasing a butterfly! Now, for some shameless, self promotion! ^.^

http://www.cafepress.com/CrosstimbersWildlife

Check us out at Cafe Press, get some cool new accessories for your house, or additions to your wardrobe, and help the critters too!


Just one of those days


Today is another one of those days that I am obsessing about saving WCCR, and have no idea how to do it. I have tried everything I know to do. I have put in multiple grant proposals, and all of them have been turned down so far. I am not a grant writer, and from what I understand, grant writing is not an easy task. I have even tried to contact celebreties…which is amazingly hard, and any services that allow you do to so, charge for it. If you have been reading, you know how I feel about WCCR. It is an amazing organization with all the potential in the world, and it fills a niche in an area where it is sorely needed.

WCCR is the highest volume wildlife rehabilitation center in the region, and the largest bobcat rehabilitation, rescue, and sanctuary in the nation. In two years, nearly ten thousand animals have come through the doors of WCCR. Over 90% of them have returned to the wild, including some amazing success stories like Darlean the three-legged bobcat (I linked her story in a previous post) successfully returned to the wild by WCCR.

The WREN project is one of the most in-depth, hands on, cutting edge programs available on wildlife rehabilitation in the nation, and it is built on a solid plan for expansion. We focus on not only rehabilitating the wildlife, but creating a self-sustaining training program built to teach proper handling and treatment of wildlife in a rehabilitation program, as well as teaching about preserving the environment that these animals depend on upon their release, and stress responsible stewardship through teaching which species of animals can be released into what habitats, and what volumes of animals each release site can handle.

We rely heavily upon private lands and mitigation banks for the release of our animals. Mitigation banks are an invaluable tool to the wildlife of WCCR. They are wetlands that have been, or are in the process of being restored to their natural, untouched state. They are usually large tracts of land, owned by a group of people who possess a formal agreement with regulators establishing liability, performance standards, management, and monitoring requirements, and the terms of bank credit approval (http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/facts/fact16.html) . They provide the perfect habitat for native wildlife.

The preservation, rehabilitation, conservation, and education efforts of WCCR so far, have not been enough. Without the purchase price of the WCCR grounds, we cannot continue to exist. Our deadline is up. Unless we can find people who can donate in large amounts, WCCR will close. Very soon.

The five long-term bobcats, including my beloved Lenny will have to find somewhere to go, and all of the animals in our rehabilitation program will have to be transferred. The WREN project will die, and the blue prints for our state of the art facility will become evidence of the death of a phenomenal facility.

I have been trying other methods to raise the money we need, including creating a facebook cause page http://www.causes.com/causes/577450-the-wildlife-center-at-crosstimbers-ranch/about. I don’t expect facebook to save WCCR, but if we can raise awareness of the plight of one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation and environmental conservation hubs in the state, and even raise a little money to buy some of the things we need for day-to-day expenses (right now, we are looking for $1200.00 to purchase baby formula on causes. We have raised $150.00 for this project), maybe it will give us some relief to look for the big funding we need to purchase our property and keep our doors open.

The thousands of animals that are lucky enough to come through our doors make a huge impact on reducing human effect on the natural world. Every animal that enters the WCCR program is there because of something that a human has done. Be it unknowingly kidnapping a fawn, hitting a mother opossum with a car, finding orphaned/injured animals that another was careless enough to ignore, or removing baby squirrels and raccoons from their dens for various reasons. Without human meddling, the majority of these animals would not be here. Unfortunately, even if WCCR no longer exists, that will not prevent the blunders of human kind. That will leave thousands of wild animals without a second chance, a second chance that without us humans, they most likely would not have needed.

In a way, WCCR, and other facilities like it, work to off set the human effect on the natural world that we have detached ourselves from. And probably the most unfortunate part of it all, is because of the regulations pertaining to wildlife rehabilitation and the practiced, private hand required to return an animal under human care back into a wild environment make it difficult to shed light on these amazing organizations. For this reason, many wildlife rehabilitators remain small-scale, and rehabilitate these animals out of their own pockets. WCCR is trying to change that. But, we must get over this hurdle first.


Beauty as a Reminder


We are slowly clearing out the things we don’t need at the ranch. There is still tons to do, but this time, we got a chance to take a breather, and remember what WCCR means to so many people. Spring is in full force, and the trees are slowly showing the fresh green leaves of the season.

The bobcats were fairly uninterested in us this week. They were far too busy lounging in the patches of sunlight filtering through the tree branches to bother with us. I was completely content with that too. We sat with them for hours, enjoying the gorgeous weather right along side the wild ones that have taught me so much.

In a rare occurence at the ranch, not only were we able to spend quite a long time with our teachers, but also to walk the woods on the back side of the grounds of WCCR. The grounds consist of 11 heavily wooded acres, and if you have time to observe the beauty of the woods, there are some truly gorgeous photo opportunities.


Raccoon Reign


For the third time this week, WCCR’s sub-permitees have received fresh shipments of orphan raccoons. The first pair was a male and female, their eyes just opened. The second set is five two-week old raccoons. One girl, and four boys. The large litter was separated into two groups. Bella and Carlos were kept together, and the other three stayed together, and went to another sub.

Baby raccoons all look incredibly similar, so separating them not only makes it easier to tell which of the crew has already been fed, but it helps with monitoring their health. At this age, the risk of aspiration (when they suckle so vigorously that they inadvertently inhale some formula) is very high, and immediate action must be taken, or one risks loosing the baby very quickly. So, separating the large litter into two smaller groups (while still ensuring the babies have a buddy) works out beautifully.

The day after these five came in, four toddlers also came in. That is eleven babies that I have picked up in the course of one week! The odd thing is, this is really the only species we are seeing at the moment. That is bound to change quickly, but I am still waiting for the bobkittens to show up! We haven’t had any since the end of last year!

But this is just the beginning…there will be a LOT more babies coming in very soon!


Spring time at the Ranch


Spring is one of the prettiest times of year at WCCR. All of the bulbs are starting to bloom and the trees are flowering. It is really lovely.

This is one of the pear trees growing in front of the ranch house in full bloom. In the background, Crostimbers Moon, and Captain being nosie 🙂 . It was pretty breezy all day when I was taking these. You can see the falling petals covering the ground by their feet. There are a lot of plants all over the property that are starting to grow. It is beautiful!

The grounds are romantic and pretty, and will only get more beautiful as we get further into spring and summer. More of the hyacinths, daffodils, and crocuses will begin to grow and bloom, and the seeds that were planted this weekend will begin to grow, and as they flower, continue to provide color through the warmer months.

 The pear tree is covered in blooms right now, but soon, they will start falling like rain. The bobcats are enjoying the weather too. They spend their days laying in the sunny patches of light filtering through the tree branches into their enclosures. The weather isn’t overly cold, nor is is blazing hot just yet. We spent the day preparing for the hot weather we know is coming. Lenny and Hoover got a new shade cloth on the top end of their enclosure, we tacked down Quincy’s shade cloth that had come up on one corner, and added shade cloth to the side of one other enclosure to ensure the girls in there would not be baking in the hot Texas sun this summer.