Orphaned bobcat kitten progressing at rehab center

(Photo courtesy of Lake Metroparks)

The bobcat kitten found in a Carroll County campground in early July is thriving at Penitentiary Glen Reservation in the Lake Metroparks Wildlife Center, wildlife care manager Tammy O’Neil reported.

O’Neil said the little female cat has doubled in size and eats a lot. It is also learning to socialize with other bobcats.

“They play together and have started curling up together to sleep,” she said.

O’Neil hopes to move the animal to the Glen’s large bobcat enclosure within a few weeks. Once there, the general public will be able to watch her on camera any time of day.

The cat’s future was a bit “iffy” when it first arrived at Penitentiary Glen. Caretakers there called its condition “unstable” at the time.

It arrived at the wildlife rehab center in Kirtland from the Stark County Park District’s Wildlife Conservation Center. The folks in Kirtland have more extensive experience with bobcats. Also, the Stark County center did not hold an appropriate permit to nurse the little cat.

Initially, a couple camping in eastern Carroll County in late June found the little feline hiding under their Honda CRV. No mother was in sight and the couple took it in, feeding it domestic cat food for a few days.  Their internet research revealed it was not a house cat, but the offspring of wild bobcats.

By that time, it was likely too late to return it to the wild and the couple thoughtfully turned it over to Stark County authorities.

The discovery hit the local newspaper and the story was soon picked up by papers in the USA Today network.

The entire episode illustrates how bobcats are rebounding in Ohio after being extirpated for 170 years. From two separate populations in the southern and southeastern part of the state, the animals are spreading along the Ohio River, as well as inland, likely following stream corridors.

One was even spotted here in Madison County two years ago in Prairie Oaks Metropark. A trail camera picked up the animal – likely a young male – moving along Big Darby Creek. Additional sightings have been reported in surrounding counties in recent years.

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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