A bobcat kitten removed from an East San Diego County animal sanctuary by state wildlife officials last week is adjusting well to his new home in Northern California, the founder of Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine said Friday.
LTB head Bobbi Brink said Diego was brought to her facility with the approval of state Fish and Wildlife, but agency officials changed their minds and took him away. State wildlife officials have paired him up with another young bobcat and hope to eventually release them into the wild.
According to Brink, Diego showed during his short time at LTB that he was dependent on humans and would be a poor candidate for release. He was discovered near a community pool last month and taken to an animal hospital in Rancho Bernardo before he was brought to the Alpine sanctuary.
“He did not exhibit any behavior typical of a wild bobcat and did not hiss once at any of the staff at the animal hospital or LTB, which lead the LTB staff to believe that he was captive-bred or in human hands for quite some time,” Brink said.
She said LTB cooperated with the state in turning over Diego but preparing to release him into the wild is not in the best interest of the animal or public safety.
“Animals like Diego that are fed by humans, especially in their early developmental years, are more likely to approach humans if they are released into the wild,” Brink said.
“Wild bobcats that have had no human contact typically avoid humans and will not attack one unless cornered,” she said. “Bobcats that have had too much human contact may approach humans and will bite anyone, even a child, to get to a food source.”
She said officials at the facility where he’s located are optimistic that Diego will be successfully rehabilitated and released into the wild, even though he’s not eating solid food yet.
Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the state agency, said they get dozens of abandoned or stranded bobcat kittens statewide around this time of year, and they prefer to place them in a central location where they can be paired up with other orphans. He said that gives them their best chance of survival when they’re released.
If Diego can’t be released, state officials will work with Brink or operators of similar facilities to place them in a suitable location, he said.
—City News Service
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