MOUNTAIN RESORT TIMESHARE FREE TO BIG CAT SUPPORTER
Many years ago Big Cat Rescue was given two timeshare vacation weeks at Wolf Run Manor, a golf and ski resort in the mountains in Du Bois, PA. The resort is operated by Crown Resorts and part of the RCI Points system. The units are 2 bedroom 2 bath townhomes that sleep 6.
We used to use these weeks as contest prizes at our annual Fur Ball gala but no longer have a use for them.
On websites that list timeshare units for sale we have seen units at this resort at this time of year listed at $1000-$4000. However, unfortunately the websites that list timeshare units for sale do not operate like regular real estate brokers who are paid when a house sells. These websites demand money up front, generally in the range of $1000-2000, with no guaranty that the unit will be sold. One such website is at the link below. To find units there that are comparable in value to these you need to look at listed weeks at this resort that are close to week 31 and 32 because values vary by season:
Wolf Manor allows current owners to purchase additional weeks at $475, which is another way to look at value.
The annual fee for each week in 2016 was $515.00 which makes for a pretty inexpensive vacation for a 2 BR 2 Bath unit that sleeps 6 for someone who can use the week(s) or use the RCI points to trade for weeks elsewhere. We just have no such use for it and do not want to pay one of these websites to list if for sale. In the RCI system the units each of “Trading Power” of 14 and 41,500 points. We have never used RCI but from what we read the trading power is if you trade for full weeks somewhere else, the points lets you trade for different number of days at different resorts if you take shorter vacations.
There is also an option each year to put the units in their rental pool, which we have done, but if rented the rent only covers the fee, it is not profitable. The units really make most sense for someone who vacations and would either like to vacation there or trade the weeks for vacations elsewhere in the RCI system.
So we would be willing to give the weeks to one of our supporters in order to not have to continue to pay the annual fee for something we cannot use and each year send in forms to put the weeks in the rental pool to recoup the fees. It makes much more sense to give the weeks to someone who can use them.
We have never been there to provide any personal guidance about it. The website describes it as “a family vacation paradise with 9000 lush, hilly acres, three lakes, two PGA 18-hole golf courses, three beaches, two restaurants.”
These are summer weeks 31 and 32, which are roughly the first two weeks of August. The dates change slightly each year and the calendar of weeks can be seen at http://www.timesharecalendar.com/calendar/ In 2016 it is July 29 – August 5 and August 5 – August 12.
Bottom line, the weeks are of no use to the sanctuary and we would like to eliminate the small effort we have to put in each year to pay the fees and then put them in the rental pool to recover the fees. We would be willing to transfer the weeks to a supporter who could use them and of course if you were interested in making a donation as part of the arrangement that would be welcome but not required. If you are interested please email Finance@BigCatRescue.org.
To read the Federal Trade Commission’s charity checklist, click HERE.
How can you tell a real sanctuary from a fake?
It’s actually easier than telling a diamond from a cubic zirconium because if you look at them, under any light at all, they are easy to tell apart. The problem is that the fake ones insist on keeping you in the dark. Some legitimate sanctuaries believe that their animals should never have to see humans, other than for their daily feeding and cleaning, and are closed to the public. Pseudo sanctuaries use this same tactic to keep the public from seeing the deplorable conditions that their animals are kept in.
Fake sanctuaries often have wonderful web sites full of self serving documentation about all the wonderful ways your donations save lives. They rely heavily on direct mail campaigns and paid solicitors. New laws have enabled these mail houses to front the costs and then pay themselves, exorbitantly, from the proceeds making it that much easier for pseudo sanctuaries to solicit funds. This means that even less of your donation is actually going to the cause (assuming any of it was before).
There are a few fool proof ways to know if the sanctuary you support is a real sanctuary or a fake:
Real sanctuaries don’t breed or buy animals. If there are babies, they were probably bought or born there. People don’t get rid of them until they are too big to handle. If there is a baby, ask how it got there and ask for proof.
Real sanctuaries don’t exploit animals. They don’t take dangerous animals out in public on leashes or in cages. Many pseudo sanctuaries do and they say they are educating the public that these animals don’t make good pets, but when people see that they can be walked on leashes or taken out in public to be shown off or to make money, then they will want to buy one of their own. It is the equivalent of saying to your audience, “Do as I say, and not as I do.”
Real sanctuaries adhere to the law. They will be licensed by the state, and usually by the USDA. They will be classified by the IRS as a non profit 501 c 3 charity. They will be licensed by the state to solicit donations, and every piece of solicitation that you see, from print to web site, will have documentation of the fact that they are so licensed. Some states, such as Florida, go a step further and require that the percentage that goes to the program services of the cause be included in all solicitation materials. Big Cat Rescue spends 100% of its donations on program services (ie: taking care of the cats).
Real sanctuaries meet the highest sanctuary standards. Fake sanctuaries will say that they don’t like the politics, or it’s a waste of donor’s money, or that they don’t want someone else telling them how to take care of their animals, but none of those are valid reasons for not meeting the highest sanctuary standards. Many fake sanctuaries are licensed by their state and by USDA and will tell you that these governing bodies are the watchdogs of the industry, but neither USDA nor any state law defines a sanctuary as being a place where animals are not bred, sold or exploited. USDA’s standards only require that an animal’s cage be big enough that he can stand up and turn around in it.
The Global Federation of Sanctuaries only accredits real sanctuaries. It only costs $150.00 per year to be a member and the application is only four pages long, so it is not a huge investment of time and money. Accreditation is only granted after an on-site inspection if the facility meets the high standards of care and responsibility. The facility must continue to maintain those standards and be re-inspected regularly to insure compliance. Membership provides real sanctuaries with a method of demonstrating their excellence to the public and donors. Membership also enables small sanctuaries across the nation to unite as one voice for the animals because The Global Federation of Sanctuaries is a member for the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition which is made up of 20 huge organizations including the Humane Society of the United States, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Animal Protection Institute, Peta and many more.
Real sanctuaries spend your donated dollars on program services. This means they spend the money on the things that made you select them as your charity. GuideStar.com lists all non profit organizations and posts their tax returns so that you can see how the money is being spent. If you type in the key word “animal” almost 15,000 organizations are listed, but only 23 of them are accredited by The Global Federation of Sanctuaries. The industry standard allows that charities spend up to 35% of their donations on soliciting and still be considered reputable. A search of the 990s on GuideStar will show that fake sanctuaries often spend as much as 75% of their donations on raising more money. In almost all of these cases you will see that the biggest expense in the pseudo sanctuary is in providing a salary to the founder. Big Cat Rescue’s founder donated millions of dollars to start the sanctuary and refused compensation for the first 20 years of the rescue’s growth.
As in every aspect of life, the truth is out there. With the right tools you can discover it for yourself.
FTC Charity Checklist
Thinking about donating to a charity? The Federal Trade Commission advises that you consider the following precautions to ensure that your donation dollars benefit the people and organizations you want to help. They’re good practices whether you’re contacted by an organization’s employees, volunteers or professional fund-raisers, soliciting donations by phone, mail or in person.
Be wary of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas involving patriotism and current events.
Ask for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly.
Ask what percentage of the donation is used to support the causes described in the
solicitation, and what percentage is used for administrative costs.
Call the charity to find out if it’s aware of the solicitation and has authorized the
use of its name.
If the telemarketer claims that the charity will support local organizations, call the local groups to verify.
Discuss the donation with a trusted family member or friend before committing the funds.
Don’t provide any credit card or bank account information until you have reviewed all
information from the charity and made the decision to donate.
Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax
Understand that contributions made to a “tax exempt” organization are not necessarily tax deductible.
Avoid cash gifts. They can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check – made payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on wise giving, visit www.ftc.gov/charityfraud or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
“I’ll pay you $500.00 if you will turn around and go back to help DNR rescue that bobcat!” I was desperate, because I know how most of the staff, at Department of Natural Resources agencies across America, feel about bobcats. They are just competitors to the hunters who want to shoot the “game” animals themselves. They say things like, “The only good bobcat is a dead bobcat.”
Mike assured me that he didn’t care about the money and that he would go help, if the fish and game officer would allow him, but he really didn’t think that would happen. I’ve kind of gotten ahead of myself though, as I am still pretty upset over the whole ordeal.
3:58 PM I got a call from a surveyor who was working the area of Fulsome Creek Road and Poole Road in Sparta, Georgia. He said he’d come across a bobcat in a leg hold trap who was panting and panicked. He couldn’t get close enough to the cat to free him (you know how bobcats are) but he didn’t want the bobcat to starve to death like the raccoon in the next trap over.
It’s illegal to trap animals, without a license, unless they are considered a nuisance. Even under those circumstances, the law states that you have to check the traps every 24 hours. The raccoon near the bobcat was badly decomposed, so we knew this was either an illegal trap or the trapper wasn’t abiding by the law.
The caller said his name was Mike and that he’d called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources an hour earlier, but no one had called him back. He just couldn’t get the haunting look of the bobcat, left trapped to suffer and die a cruel death, out of his mind.
He called Big Cat Rescue.
I suggested that he try a local vet, who might know a rescue group in the area, but he said Sparta was a “po-dunk town” that didn’t have any vet clinics. I took his name, number, the street intersection (two dirt roads in the middle of nowhere) and said I’d try to track down a rehabber.
I went to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division to see if I could find any local rehabbers in Hancock County. Rehabbers are a wonderful kind of people, who will risk it all to save wild animals, and nurse them back to health, but I can count on one hand the ones that have any sort of marketing sense. There are rehabber lists, but they are always outdated and just about useless.
There weren’t any wildlife rehabilitaters in Hancock County, so I pulled up a map of surrounding counties. Greene, Taliaferro, Warren, Glascock, Washington, Jefferson, Baldwin and Putnam Counties, and only one rehab facility amongst them.
That one place, the Mockingbird Hill Wildlife Rehab Center, was in the next county over; Washington County.
I called both numbers, left the info at both answering machines, and then turned my attention to local veterinarians.
I called Tim Gress, the person who had run a sanctuary in Georgia, where we had gotten Kali Tiger. He said he was over an hour away and couldn’t leave work. He said he didn’t have the tools to deal with a bobcat anyway. I told him he could come visit Kali and he said he was saving up vacation time to do that.
The closest veterinarian I could find, was also in Washington County, so it would be a long shot, but I called them.
It would be an hour drive for them but it would be 6 and a half hours for me and I can’t take controlled drugs across state lines and couldn’t take the bobcat in any case as I am not licensed in Georgia. By the time I could get there, it would be the middle of the night and no chance that I’d find the bobcat on my own.
I got a kindly woman, with a very southern accent named Amy, and she said she knew the Game Warden, Bryant Adams, in Glascock County. She said that he was the one who covered Hancock County, since they don’t have their own Animal Control Services. She said she would call him. I asked her to call me back if she was not successful. I wasn’t going to let this bobcat chew off his own foot even though I hadn’t figured out what Plan B was going to be.
I’d been calling and texting, back and forth with Jamie Veronica, and she had checked with Dr. Justin Boorstein about any drugs that could be used to sedate a bobcat that might be legal to transport across state lines and he said there were none. Even if we were able to transport the drugs across state lines, we aren’t licensed to use them and he can’t just up and leave work for a two day mission to save the bobcat. AND even if he could, he’s not licensed to practice medicine in Georgia.
4:44 PM I call the surveyor to let him know that I’ve called the vet, who is calling the Glascock Game Warden, and Mike tells me that meanwhile the DNR has called him back. He told the officer where the cat could be found and the officer complained that all he had was a choke stick and he was by himself, so he had no idea how he was going to get the bobcat out of a foothold trap alive. Mike said from the way the guy laughed while saying it, that he feared for the bobcat’s life.
That’s when I said, “I’ll pay you $500.00 if you will turn around and go back to help DNR rescue that bobcat!”
Mike agrees that if the DNR officer will allow it, he’ll drop off his workmate, turn around and make the 45 minute drive back to the scene to help. He gives me the phone number for the officer and I called, but got voicemail, so as I am leaving him a message, with Mike’s offer, a call comes in.
I switch over and it’s a deer rehabber named John Burke who I mistake, initially, for the fish and game officer. Once we clear that up, he tells me that he has no experience with bobcats, but he’s willing to try. He asks what I would do if I didn’t have any way to sedate the cat.
I tell him that we do two nets down over the cat, then a big blanket on top and would try to fish the trapped leg out with gloved hands, to pry off the trap. I give him both the fish and game officer’s number and Mike’s number and suggest that he call DNR first to offer assistance. He says he will.
Meanwhile, our Operations Manager, Gale Ingham, has overheard all of this and gets on the phone with our Gift Shop Manager, Honey Wayton because she thinks Honey has relatives in Georgia. They are all willing to go help someone as well. I get another text from Mike who tells me that a second agent from DNR has contacted him and is going out to help the first one.
Amazing how many people show up to help after all!
So if you are all on edge, like I’ve been all day, you will be thrilled to know that Corporal Dave Allen of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources returned my call the next day to let me know that he had successfully released the bobcat. He said there was minimal damage to the foot and he believed the bobcat would be able to hunt and survive with no further intervention.
Big Cat Rescue offers Field Trips for schools and Group Tours for community groups (that may include children) and homeschool groups.
One hour walking tour.
For non-school groups (this includes homeschool groups).
Minimum of 10, maximum of 60 people on one day.
No minimum age.
Must arrive 30 minutes prior to tour.
No group tours on weekends.
Kids under 18 yrs old $19
M, T, W, & F Anytime between 10am and 1:30pm
Group tours are scheduled on weekdays only. Groups who are interested in weekend tours may purchase tickets to any of our regular weekend tours through our Zerve booking system. Standard pricing and policies apply.
Zerve does not book group tours or field trips. You must reserve them through the Jennifer Leon the Director of Outreach at 813-393-6066 or email@example.com
The benefits of scheduling a group tour is that you have the tour guide to yourselves and are not sharing the tour with people you don’t know. Our regular Day Tours are typically 20 people and do not allow children under the age of 10, except on Kids Tours.
A few years ago Vernon Stairs was using the weed whacker back in the heavy brush behind Cameron the Lion and Zabu the White Tiger’s cage when he accidentally stepped into a fallen bee’s nest. The hundreds of stings he endured would have killed most people and certainly would have killed our cats. You can imagine our trepidation when we discovered three HUGE hives on the sanctuary grounds!
We were really torn between wanting to insure the safety of our cats and our workers and being aware of the fact that honeybees are dying off at an alarming rate, due primarily to the use of pesticides.
According to Einstein, if the bee disappears then man only has four years left to live.
Barbara Stairs got busy (dare I say, like a bee?) to find someone who could rescue and relocate the bees. She followed a lot of leads that led no where before being funneled through the University of South Florida and out to some previous students who just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE BEES!
Bryan and Erica started a honey bee rescue and honey product Facebook group called Urban Buzz. They are just getting started, but have a lot of knowledge about bees and a strong desire to preserve the important role they serve in nature. You can see how expertly they relocated the bees from our trees to their hives in the video below:
A single bobcat requires 5 square miles of territory in order to have enough prey to support him. All exotic cats, male and female, spray to mark their boundaries. Except for an overlapping of territory during mating the cats patrol and defend their boundaries against other cats and other top predators. These boundaries must be fiercely guarded or the cats will starve to death. If two wild cats find themselves in the same area they will fight to the death. That is why respecting these scent marked boundary lines is so important to them.
…the cat is being dumped into some other cat’s territory
and one of them is going to die.
Bobcats will almost never show themselves, so if you see one it may mean that development around you has taken his home or that sport hunters have taken his food. Nature is perfectly balanced until man enters the scene with a gun. If you are living in an area where a wild cat has called home and the cat is transported to another suitable habitat, then you can be sure the cat is being dumped into some other cat’s territory and one of them is going to die. You may reason that your home is in a busy city environment and the cat is in peril because it is crossing busy highways and coming in close contact with people with guns. That is true and that is sad but relocating the cat is not the answer.
Bobcats are smart and can live right alongside people and stay out of trouble. They are a great asset as they prey upon rats and help control disease by keeping the vermin population in check. Nature is perfectly balanced until man steps in and starts trying to eliminate key animals in the cycle of life.
I went outside to feed the birds today and saw a bobcat.
He (or she) was about 200 feet away, resting on the ground in front of the compost pile.
Compost piles are wildlife magnets. The odiferous porridge of kitchen wastes attracts mammals large and small. I’ve watched foxes and raccoons explore these bins of human detritus, but this was the first time a bobcat showed interest in the family dumping ground for avocado pits, eggshells, burnt rice and apple cores.
The bobcat, a tawny mass of cropped fur and pointy ears, looked comfortable. Like an oversized house cat who had just polished off a hearty meal, he rested contentedly on the matted grass. We eyed each other from afar. I squatted low, to appear less threatening. The cat simply stared in my direction, tufted ears at full attention, assessing the menace.
Reluctant to miss anything, but eager to immortalize this special moment, I rose slowly and slipped back into the house. Unfortunately, my camera wasn’t hanging on the hook next to the kitchen door as I assumed it would be.
Not wanting to waste precious time searching the house, I eased back outside. By then, the bobcat had risen, but remained in the same place.
The feral feline must have realized (correctly) that I was harmless, because he proceeded to stretch with a long, leisurely gee-I-wish-you-hadn’t-disturbed-me arch of the back. Standing my ground, I watched in awe.
Moments later, the object of my attention ambled off toward a more sheltered environ. There was nothing frantic or fearful about his movements. His graceful gait was slow and steady. I watched as he rounded the corner, disappearing from sight. Wanting more, I followed in his wake, moving as quietly as my bare feet would allow.
As I approached, I noticed the bobcat had paused beneath the overhanging branches of a nearby mulberry tree. The low-hanging limbs of the leafy fruit tree provided a tangled web that blended perfectly with his reddish-brown fur. When I rounded the corner, the cat caught sight of me. He responded by moving toward the woods. My eyes followed his trail for an instant before he vanished into the brambly undergrowth.
My one-on-one moment with nature was over. My only photographs were mental snapshots of the bobcat’s movements. I rushed back inside, eager to share my experience with Ralph and Toby.
Although this was the first time I’ve seen a bobcat by the compost pile, it was not my first sighting. On at least a half dozen occasions, I’ve chanced upon bobcats on the property. Each encounter has been spectacular, a cherished gift. But these experiences concern me, too. I’m not scared for myself or for the safety of others, but for the bobcats themselves. Every peek into the waning wilderness reminds me of what we have to lose.
So much untamed land has already been developed. What will happen to the bobcats, bears, deer, foxes and coyotes when people eliminate even more woods to make way for shopping centers, residential communities and industrial complexes?
The Florida panther is endangered. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), only about 100 of these magnificent mammals remain in the wild. About a million bobcats roam throughout North America. In Florida, they are neither endangered nor threatened. But how long can that last?
Bobcats are solitary hunters. A male needs about 4,900 acres of field and forest in order to supply its carnivorous needs. A female needs 2,900 acres. That’s so much land. While these dog-size consumers of rats, mice, birds and rabbits can adapt to eating out of compost piles, foraging through trash cans and licking the remains of pet food bowls, it’s unlikely suburban residents will welcome their arrival to the neighborhood. Any nondomesticated creature that wanders into suburbia is more apt to arouse panic than peaceful observation and gratitude.
That’s not how I feel. I’m grateful for any chance to see a wild animal — large or small, on foot, wing or water.
I went out to feed the birds today and wound up feeding my own insatiable appetite for wildlife encounters. The few minutes the bobcat and I shared made an impression that will last for years. Will moments like this continue to happen? I don’t know, but I hope they will. I hope time is gentle to bobcats and the many other creatures whose fate relies heavily on the course of human actions.
Keep this in mind before you call someone and ask them to relocate a wild animal. It is against the law for a trapper to relocate a problem animal. They have to kill him or her by state law.
1/29/2009 The following is the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’s position on killing nuisance bobcats instead of relocating them or allowing them to be given sanctuary at Big Cat Rescue and other such sanctuaries.
“We sincerely appreciate and share your concerns for Florida’s wildlife, particularly in the recent incident in which a bobcat was euthanized after it was captured by a nuisance wildlife trapper in an Orlando community.
Nobody likes to see an animal killed like this, whether the reason makes sense biologically or for public safety, or not. In fact, allowing nuisance animals to be euthanized is something we would rather not do, and we consider that to be a last resort. This particular incident is very sad and unfortunate, but as is often the case, it may have resulted from inappropriate behavior by people.
The staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is dedicated to wildlife conservation, which means protecting and managing wildlife species. So allowing an animal like this bobcat to be euthanized may seem counter to our agency’s mission. But, as unfortunate as it is, this bobcat was an example of an animal for which there was no good alternative other than euthanasia.
Many people have called our agency to ask why this bobcat couldn’t be taken to a zoo or other type of captive wildlife facility. The reason is that it’s difficult or impossible for many animals taken from the wild to adapt to living in a captive situation. As a result, most captive wildlife facilities are hesitant to take them because the animals become stressed, are subject to illness, fight with other animals and introduce disease into the facility.
People also asked why it couldn’t be relocated to the wild. There are many reasons for this, which are explained below, but the bottom line is that this animal had become too accustomed to being around people and no longer had much fear of them.
How this unnatural behavior happened is unknown, but the fact remains that it did. The bobcat was no longer acting like a wild bobcat. People in the community may have allowed it to eat pet food, or may even have set out food specifically for the bobcat. Or maybe nobody did anything to discourage it from hanging around. Maybe at first it was a novelty to see a bobcat up close, perhaps a good photo opportunity. So people tiptoed around the bobcat, and nobody tried to scare it away.
Or maybe the bobcat was sick; sick animals often exhibit unnatural behaviors and sometimes may lose their fear of people.
A wild animal that loses its fear and becomes comfortable around people, for whatever reason, is not a wild animal you want in your neighborhood. An animal like this becomes unpredictable and could easily injure someone. If it is sick and attacks someone the problems are even worse.
Moving an animal such as this bobcat provides an opportunity for it to become the same problem animal in a different neighborhood, or perhaps it could even spread disease to other wild animals in a new area.
Studies have shown that many relocated wild animals often try to return home – no matter how far away home is. Along the way an animal like this bobcat may find another neighborhood whose residents offer the same amenities – generally easy meals and few threats to its safety. The nuisance problems then start all over again in a new community.
Relocated animals cross unfamiliar roads and often get hit and injured or killed by vehicles. And, they end up in another bobcat’s established territory, alone and unfamiliar with the lay of the land. They often fall victim to fights that are frequently won by the resident animal.
The best solution to wild animals becoming nuisance animals is people – you and me – making sure that our actions don’t cause wild animals to change their behaviors. The key is in knowing how to live with them. Even in a state with seemingly runaway development, we can and often do co-exist with many wild animals. If people do the right things, then harm usually won’t come to either us or the animals.
If this is to work, it may require some people to modify their own behavior. How much you have to modify often depends upon where you live or how recently your neighborhood was built. It is often a real benefit to live right next to wetlands or woods, but if you do, you probably have lots of wildlife neighbors, some of which are looking for easy meals.
One of the surest ways to make a wild animal lose its fear of people and become a nuisance is to leave your pet’s food outside. For that matter, leaving any kind of food outside can attract wild critters. If we leave our garbage in an unsecured trash can, it can become a buffet for raccoons, bears, opossums and other wild animals. The seemingly innocuous birdfeeders can sometimes attract much more than birds. Even compost piles are heavenly to some wildlife. Unfortunately, in the end, all of these foods that humans provide unwittingly to wild critters can lead to the death of those wild critters who are so tempted by them.
We are all affected when the wild animals become used to people, then are branded nuisances and are sentenced to death. Nobody likes that, but often people can make small changes in their actions and prevent it from happening.
I hope this helps you understand some of the issues we face when humans and wildlife interact in these situations, as well as some of the solutions.
You may also find the enclosed document useful. It explains some of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s nuisance wildlife rules and provides a little more information about why it’s rarely a good idea to relocate wildlife.
Again, thank you for your heartfelt concern, and please know that we share many of your concerns.
FWC Citizen Services”
Update 2010: Thanks to so many Big Cat Rescuers showing up to ask the FWC to protect the bobcat, they revised their ruling that all trapped bobcats must be killed to say that the bobcat must be released as close to the point of pick up as possible and that it must be on at least 40 acres, in the same county and there must be a signed approval for release by the owner of the property OR the bobcat has to be killed.
Why so many cougar attacks and cougar sightings?
Every day there is a story in a paper somewhere in the U.S. about cougar or mountain lion sightings in areas where the cats have not existed in the wild in over 100 years. Why is that? Could it possibly be that despite the fact that extinction rates are more than 1000 times greater than they should be due to the uncontrolled population growth of man and our extermination of everything in our path, the cougar is making a come back? That is what the fish and game departments across the country are claiming, but that is because they make their money from the issuance of permits to kill big cats. Hunters have wiped out the Jaguar for the most part and the cougar only exists in a few areas. Fish and game “experts” would have us believe that despite the fact that the big cats have been driven to extinction in most of their ranges around the world, that miraculously, the much-prized-trophy-cougar is alive and well and a public menace to boot.
Consider a much more likely scenario: The cougars who are being spotted in areas where they haven’t lived in up to 200 years, who are brazen enough to walk through subdivisions, and nap in trees above the family mini van, and who are living off eating dogs and cats and other domestic animals are the pets and captive born breeders turned loose due to the new law that makes it illegal to sell cougars across state lines. The Captive Wild Animal Safety Act was signed into law in Dec. 2003 by President Bush and immediately there was a flurry of cougar sightings. In every case the stories paint a portrait of a cougar nonchalantly strolling through a neighborhood. This is the behaviour of an animal born and raised around people, not a wild animal.
They had a hard time explaining why one of them who was hit by a car
turned out to be declawed.
Delighted with the prospect of being able to sell permits to shoot the majestic cats the department of natural resources keeps assuring the public that these are wild cougars and that blasting them out of the trees is done in the name of public safety. They had a hard time explaining why one of them who was hit by a car turned out to be declawed.
Big Cat Rescue tracked the calls we received from people trying to get rid of unwanted big cats over the past decade:
Unwanted We Took Found We Offered We Took
Big Cats These Homes To Take These
1999 55 13 * * 7 tigers, 2 cougars, 2 bobcats, 2 servals
2000 54 11 * * 7 tigers, 2 jungle cats + hybrids
2001 78 10 6 * 2 lions, 4 bobcats + hybrids
2002 74 4 0 * 2 tigers, 1 leopard, 1 bobcat
2003 312 8 4 * 2 jaguars, 1 leopard, 3 bobcats, + hybrids
2004 110 6 3 * 5 tigers, 1 lion
2005 94 9 2 * 6 tigers, 3 cougars; Ares, Artemis, Orion
2006 79 0 0 * none other than hybrids
2007 67 13 1 * 6 tigers, 2 lions, 5 rehab bobcats *who are not incl in list of abandoned cats
2008 85 3 0 22 2 tigers, 1 liger: Cookie, Alex, Freckles
2009 50 2 0 17 1 cougar, 1 serval; Sophia and Desiree
2010 89 9 1 53 3 cougars, Narla, Freddy, Sassy, 5 bobcats and a serval named Servie
1147 88 17
…these cats are being turned loose to fend
Every year that number was growing dramatically, but in the year following the new law prohibiting the sale of big cats across state lines as pets, the number dropped by 1/3. The only other marginal drop was right after 9/11 and that coincided with a huge drop in discretionary spending.
It is a shame that these cats are being turned loose to fend for themselves. They don’t have the skills and some cases don’t even have the claws, to catch their own food. Those who are not shot will probably starve to death and in time we will start to see a drop in the number of sightings reported. The only good news is that this new federal law has been effective at curbing the number of cougars and lions that are being born for a life of misery and captivity.
People are still getting around the prohibition on big cats as pets by calling themselves educators or sanctuaries. Big Cat Rescue is working hard to close the loopholes in the laws that allow people to exploit big cats for profit. Please bookmark our page on Laws to keep up on the latest efforts to make the world a safer place for people and the exotic cats.
How do the wildlife agencies make it worse?
Nature has become purposely imbalanced by our wildlife agencies in order to insure that there are plenty of animals to be killed for fun and profit. Cougars prefer deer and rabbits to people, but our wildlife departments make money from selling permits to the 5% of our population that enjoying killing the cougar’s natural prey. This is often done in excess so that the cougars appear to be a public menace so that the state’s fish and game departments can then gain public support to sell the permits to kill the highly prized cougars.
Fact: Only 5% (12.5 million) of our population are hunters, yet they kill over 115
million animals each year for fun.
These are just the animals that licensed hunters report killing and do not include all the animals who are poached each year by those who believe that they are above the law. Even more despicable are the canned hunts where far too many exotic cats end up when they are discarded from zoos, circus acts and pet owners. Although it is illegal to kill most endangered species, the practice is common and for the right price and a guarantee of secrecy trophy hunters can kill a tiger or leopard while it sits in a cage. If this isn’t bad enough consider the fact that they don’t want to ruin the trophy and will therefore aim for areas that cause a slow and painful death.
Wild cats do not purchase hunting licenses and most state wildlife managers draw their pay from revenue derived from the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. That, in brief, is what is wrong with wildlife management in America. In the US the decisions to protect or destroy, conserve or control, restore populations or reduce them are made by the interest of hunters. The 93% of Americans who do not hunt have been effectively excluded from the decision making process. Now that more caring people are trying to get involved, the state’s are fighting as never before to keep them out. Understanding the hunter’s hold on wildlife is the critical first step to loosening that grip.
Hunting and fishing licenses are not simply issued by the state, but sold for a fee. Normally, these fees would be deposited in a state’s general treasury, and from there appropriated to whatever state programs the public, acting through their elected legislators, consider important. Instead, however, the conservation lobby persuaded state legislatures to dedicate hunting and fishing license fees to conservation programs. This means that license fees go directly to the state’s wildlife management agency, effectively insulating it from the legislature’s – and thereby the public’s – most effective means of oversight, the power of the purse. In a very real sense, state wildlife agency staff are not public servants, they are employees of the hunters and fishers whose license fees fund their programs and pay their salaries.
In 2006 12.5 million hunters spent $23 billion on their sport of which $642,069,054 went to wildlife agencies. 71 million wildlife watchers spent $45 billion in 2001, nearly twice as much as hunters, a fact generally ignored by state wildlife agencies when they tout the economic benefits of hunting. Since wildlife watchers do not have to purchase licenses or tags and they do not pay a tax on their equipment, the percentage of their $45 billion that went to wildlife agencies was exactly zero. Who do you think the wildlife agencies are working for?
In 2006 Thirty-one percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older fed, observed, or photographed wildlife. These wildlife watchers increased in number by 8% from 2001 to 2006. Their expenditures for wildlife-watching equipment (binoculars, cameras, etc.) increased by 20% and for wildlife-watching trips by 40%.
The mass murder and manipulation of wild animals is just another business. Hunters are a tiny minority, and it’s crucial to them that the millions of people who don’t hunt not be awakened from their long sleep and become anti hunting. (Williams 1990) In 1995 the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS attempted to compile information about the structure of the wildlife commissions across the nation. Seventeen states refused to respond, indicating their disdain for animal lover’s involvement in THEIR business. The remaining states admitted that their boards are dominated by consumptive wildlife users. Several of these are people who own canned hunting operations. Most important is to note, that by their own admission, none of their commission members are opposed to hunting. Consider now the fact that another poll of the public, taken the same year, showed that 93% do not hunt and that most Americans are opposed to the brutal practice. Clearly these governing boards are not representing the majority of the people in their wildlife management policies.
The myth that we have been expected to buy into says; “We have to kill animals so that they don’t over populate and starve to death.” The fact is that habitat is managed for maximum deer and duck numbers; wildlife is trapped and transplanted to the killing fields; fires are set; trees are planted or mown down; fields are flooded and fields are drained all to maximize the numbers of animals available to hunters for the joy of killing. Natural predators, such as Cougars, Bobcats, Lynx, Wolves and Coyotes are killed by the thousands so that they don’t compete with the hunters.
The predominance of Aldo Leopold’s philosophy in wildlife management assures that our incredible war on wildlife can continue indefinitely. It is, in fact, the only war in history conducted by rules that were deliberately designed to keep it from ending. The conservation philosophy was created to guarantee that animals will continue to suffer and die at the hands of hunters forever. It is a philosophy of animal abuse in perpetuity.
Florida spends more on wildlife law enforcement than it does on wildlife and fisheries management combined. This is typical of most states. We expect to pay our officers to protect the unbridled exploitation of our state’s wildlife, but the bulk of the budget is spent to ensure that the licensed hunters and anglers are obeying the law regarding size, weight and number of kills. These expenditures would be virtually un necessary if there were no hunting. This fact undermines the assertion made by the hunting industry that it pays for wildlife and parks. At the very best, hunters pay to produce lots of animals that they want to kill and pay to enforce regulations to keep each other from killing too many of them or in an illegal
The numbers killed are staggering. These figures all came from reported kills, in just one recent year, by licensed hunters and do not include
animals that were killed illegally:
As people become more enlightened fewer and fewer people each year are taking up hunting as a sport. To change this trend, the hunters and the state’s wildlife agencies are promoting hunting to children. Faced with declining numbers of hunters and an increasing population of non consumptive wildlife users, the states are circling the wagons to protect hunting. Instead of seriously seeking alternative sources of funding, ways to include the non hunting public, and management that emphasizes non hunted species, they are trying to increase hunter numbers so that they don’t have to change the status quo. Your tax dollars are paying for promotional campaigns to urge children as young as 6 to get involved in trapping and killing animals because it has been discovered that if a child is not exposed to this sort of violence during their formative years, they will be very unlikely to be able to stomach the thought of killing for pleasure as an adult. Animal abuse is directly linked to human abuse and murder.
For more details read: Teach Our Children.
Five percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, 12.5 million people, hunted in 2006. The number of all hunters declined by 4% from 2001 to 2006. Wildlife agencies are now targeting children as young as 10 and women as the hunters of the future by portraying the killing of animals as a way to feel empowered in their world. See USFWS 2006 report.
What can we do to stop the violence?
The answer lies in becoming active and speaking out. Most of us feel the same way, but we aren’t being heard, because we are standing idly by waiting for someone else to do the right thing. Most wildlife commissioners are appointed by the governor.
Use your state’s freedom of information act to find out how members are appointed to your board and what their position really is on wildlife protection. Make sure that plenty of non hunters attend each meeting of your wildlife commission. Make sure that they attend to important issues like hound hunting, baiting, long trap check intervals, hunting contests, children recruitment policies and how animals are identified as being so unworthy of protection that there is unlimited, open season on their killing.
Speak out calmly and professionally. To act irrational and thus label all people who care as being unstable won’t help the animals. Ask the commission to schedule votes on these issues and to go on the record about their support of them. Get the press involved to cover the meetings and the failure of the commission to act in favour of reasonable wildlife protection measures. The media wants to print articles that will be favourable to the masses and the masses have said that they are not in favour of hunting.
Work to change the composition of the commission to include members who are not hunters. Lobby the governor’s office to appoint qualified candidates who represent the majority of the people in your state. If these candidates are continually passed over in favour of less
qualified hunters, then let the media know about it. Work with your state legislator so see if perhaps a ballot initiative might be implemented to restructure the commission.
Lobby members of the appropriate committees in your state legislature to earmark general funds for the support of the wildlife department. With enough funding we can demand that our concerns be seriously addressed by the commission and the department.
If you don’t know who your representatives are, you can find them on line by clicking on the lion at the left.
115 million animals are counting on YOU to speak out for them this year.