Jul 13, 2018

Two more bobcats with mange show up in Santa Cruz

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Last night, WES received a report from a local photographer that he’d spotted a sick bobcat at Wilder Ranch Park. 

"We used to see lots of bobcat (at least once every four visits), but it has been a year since we last saw one there. Today, we were excited to finally see a bobcat, but dismayed when it turned around to be clearly suffering from mange."

Indeed, the bobcat appears to be suffering from notoedric mange, a skin condition caused by mites. Research suggests this condition is related to a compromised immune system, often seen in bobcats exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides. See resource links below for more. 

Under normal circumstances, sightings of bobcats suffering from mange is a cause for concern. In this case, it’s alarming because of the number of ailing bobcats that have been found in and around Wilder Ranch and UCSC campus over the years. Similarly, Elkhorn Slough Reserve has had an abundance of sick bobcats. 

Since 2013, WES has been keeping track of bobcats found with mange. See the map, here: 

WES has documented approximately 40 bobcats suffering from mange - just in Santa Cruz County! A few were successfully captured. Sadly, only a few of those recovered.

Many that were found dead or died in care were sent to the Wildlife Investigations Lab near Davis for testing. Results from the necropsies show an undeniably clear link between the fatal illness and exposure to anticoagulant poison. 

Predators, like the bobcat, are poisoned when they consume an animal that has eaten poison - it could be a ground squirrel, rat, mouse, gopher. 

These powerful chemicals that cause hemorrhaging, referred to as second generation anticoagulant rodenticides, or SGARs, are long-lived. Unlike first generation anticoagulants, SGARs don’t break down quickly, but accumulate in the liver. Each dose, then, increases the animal’s “stored up” level of poison until it either overwhelms the immune system and the animal succumbs to a secondary illness like mange, or it bleeds to death. 

It’s not just the predators like bobcats, coyotes, owls and hawks that are being poisoned, it’s the scavengers too, like raccoons, opossums and skunks. Even dogs and cats are at risk should they find and eat a poison-laced rodent.

Since the last bobcat at Wilder Ranch, just over a month ago, park officials agreed to help whenever another bobcat was sighted, so this morning I notified their staff and made arrangements to store a large cage on site in case the cat is seen again. 

I also notified Santa Cruz Raptors Are The Solution (SCRATS). Tai Moses, who runs the local chapter, helped spread word about the sighting, encouraging people to report sightings of sick bobcats.

It wasn't long before she alerted me to another sick bobcat - this one was spotted on the USCS campus, just about 3 miles away. Totally different cat. Check out the video, HERE. Only three miles

For me, this is absolutely heartbreaking. I am so tired of picking up dead and dying bobcats. 

If more people understood how extraordinary one single bobcat is - especially in a suburban area. How much went into its creation, from the meeting of two wild bobcats, to its conception, its mother finding a safe place to give birth to her kittens, and her staying alive - avoiding cars, hunters, trappers and dogs long enough to raise her cubs and teach them how to hunt successfully... only to be rendered to skin and bones by society's addiction to anticoagulant poison and greed within the pest control industry.

Dying mother bobcat with its cub. UCSC campus.

Anticoagulant rodenticides ARE NOT NECESSARY!!!!!! 

There are plenty of effective alternative rodenticides that don't risk killing wildlife and pets as SGARs do. 

There are plenty of effective means of controlling rodents without the use of poisons whatsoever! 

THIS HAS TO STOP, and I believe we can stop it. It will be a hard battle but I think we can. At least locally.

No matter where you live, if you're interested in joining the fight to end the use of SGARs, please email me rebecca (at) wildlifeservices (dot) org.

If you want to donate funds - to cover the costs of testing the animals we find, to prove they were exposed to poison, and to cover costs specifically associated with this battle.

Please help in whatever way you can. 

REPORT SIGHTINGS TO 831-498-9453 or use the iPhone App WildHelp


Google album Faces of Rodenticide  (images are copyright protected - all rights reserved)