Caught between the green lawns and the brown hills of Southern California is the North American bobcat, Lynx rufus.While not technically endangered, scientists as recently as June have watched healthy bobcats die of severe mange, a common skin disease caused by parasitic mites normally afflicting canines.
Local scientists believe the tuft-eared wildcats are being poisoned by eating gophers or ground squirrels that have ingested rat poison left in yards by homeowners or near dams and other government structures.
In January, local scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey collared two bobcats as part of a $469,000 study started last fall in the Whittier-Puente Hills. After watching the healthy couple for months, suddenly the female cat, WIN, died of severe mange and her partner, ZEK, a male, a short time later also contracted severe mange and nearly died.
USGS ecologists acted quickly by re-capturing ZEK a few weeks ago and speeding him to treatment. Today, he’s recuperating at an Orange County veterinarian clinic — its exact location is a secret. Will ZEK survive?
“Possibly,” said Erin Boydston, USGS research ecologist working on the Whittier-Puente Hills bobcat study. “He is eating. But we don’t have the full picture on his health status,” she said Tuesday, while downloading memory cards from remote cameras her team has placed on Powder Canyon Trail in Rowland Heights. “It is still a little early to know his longer-term prognosis,” she added by email Friday.
Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story BOBCAT.