Sep. 23—Following a good report from the veterinarian, the two bobcats recently placed under the care of Lake Metroparks have been moved to their rehabilitation enclosure, where they will spend the winter in view of a webcam feed accessible to the public.
The bobcats were moved to their new enclosure at the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center, located at the park district's Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland, on Sept. 15. Lake Metroparks Executive Director Paul Palagyi noted that the bobcats may stick to the corners of the enclosure at first, though he expects that they will become more active over time.
Eventually, he expects that virtual audiences will be able to watch them play in the snow, lay in the sunlight and camouflage themselves in dirt, mulch and branches.
He added that the bobcats will eventually fight to establish dominance until one submits. The dominant bobcat will eat first and determine when the other one can eat.
They will likely stay with the park district until spring, when food will be most abundant. Palagyi noted that winter is the most difficult period for bobcats, and if these had not been orphaned, they would have spent their first winter with a parent.
Dan Burnett, chief of interpretive services at the Penitentiary Glen Nature Center, previously told The News-Herald that the enclosure allows the bobcats to test their agility by climbing and hanging on various environmental objects. They can also hear the sounds of the natural world at night and catch small creatures, like chipmunks, that squeeze into the enclosure.
"We want to keep them wild and give them all the tools they need to remain that way and have a successful release back into the wild," Traci Keller, the Wildlife Center's wildlife care assistant manager, previously told The News-Herald.
Bobcats are more common in Southeastern Ohio, she added. These come from Scioto and Jackson counties, where they will likely return.
Keller said that park district believes the larger bobcat, a male, was born early in spring 2022, and that the smaller one, a female, was born in June. When they arrived at the Wildlife Center, they were thin and dehydrated, and the smaller one required fluids multiple times a day.
While Wildlife Center staff work to help the bobcats, Burnett hopes that community members benefit from the opportunity to observe the animals on the upcoming livestream.
"You can see the behind the scenes of these unique creatures that you would never see in the wild, the interaction they have with each other, you know. They're not hiding on the camera," he said.
The webcam can be accessed by visiting lakemetroparks.com/webcams and selecting the "Bobcat cam" option.
Lake Metroparks is looking for game meat and fish to feed the bobcats, according to a Sept. 22 Facebook post. People interested in providing food are asked to call or email the Wildlife Center to make sure that there is enough freezer space, with Burnett adding that the meat should be provided in gallon-sized bags or smaller. Individuals interested in donating meat or learning more can call 440-256-1404, extension 2131, or email Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org.