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Unwanted bobcat was released by Staten Island owners, neighbors report

Bobcat, captured on Staten Island, hunkers down in Long Island

Vet treating feisty feline at refuge; Grasmere doesn’t miss the lynx that prowled

Friday, February 06, 2009
By PHIL HELSEL
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A 30-pound bobcat that had been running free for weeks in Grasmere is now at a Long Island wildlife refuge, where she was described as “aggressive” but otherwise healthy.

The cat, which was declawed, was almost certainly kept as a pet before it was lured into a trap with chicken livers Wednesday afternoon.

The approximately 1-year-old female was taken to Wildlife in Need of Rescue in Nassau County, where it will be treated by a vet and kept in isolation for the next 10 days as a precaution.

“She’s acting normal for a bobcat, which is aggressive,” said Bob Horvath, who runs the nonprofit rehabilitation center in Massapequa. “They don’t usually respond like your average housecat.”

The animal, which is somewhat underweight, had been reported prowling around Brady’s Pond behind Fingerboard Road since at least Thanksgiving. It was trapped by a homeowner on Delphine Lane Wednesday afternoon and turned over to Animal Care and Control, which sent it to Horvath.

No owner has come forward, and police said they consider the case closed.

Several neighborhood residents said the cat was once the pet of a couple that split up. Left with an owner that didn’t want it, the animal was let outside, they said, but that could not be confirmed with the purported owner last night.

Horvath will find the bobcat a home at a nature preserve or zoo, although the animals are a fairly common attraction and many zoos already have a pair, he said.

Rattled neighbors who’d been shocked to see the tall cat staring into windows or stalking perilously close to homes where small dogs are kept, expressed relief that the animal was trapped safely.

“Everybody wanted to see a happy ending, rather than if the cops came and had to shoot it,” said Peter Martens, the trapper. “I’m glad it’s going to a better place.”

In rare instances in the past, rescued animals have been taken to the Staten Island Zoo, as in 2006 when five poisonous snakes were discovered during a Port Richmond apartment fire.

The Zoo’s executive director, John Caltabiano, said it already has two 6-month-old bobcats preparing for their debut in a couple of weeks.

Bobcats are common in most of North America and range upstate. Even declawed, the cats can use their teeth as primary weapons. They typically hunt rodents and rabbits.

“She’s not defenseless,” Horvath said.

Phil Helsel is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at helsel@siadvance.com.

http://www.silive.com/news/advance/index.ssf?/base/news/123392520918870.xml&coll=1

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org