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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Bobcats in the desert

  • There have been many sightings of bobcats in the Ridgecrest area. This is no surprise as this is the time of year when parent bobcats are out teaching their offspring how to hunt and the cats are native to the desert.
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  • There have been many sightings of bobcats in the Ridgecrest area. This is no surprise as this is the time of year when parent bobcats are out teaching their offspring how to hunt and the cats are native to the desert.
    Bobcats are predators by nature and do not distinguish between a family pet or a jack rabbit. The  Ridgecrest Animal Shelter is offering discounted spay and neuter programs that help keep family pets from roaming away from safety and becoming a potential meal for a hungry bobcat.     
    The Ridgecrest Animal Shelter has been catching, and then transporting and releasing the native felines at a rate of one a week. Mary Stage, shelter director said two were caught on the same day and on neighboring properties last week.
    Stage explained one resident had requested a bobcat be removed from their property as it was starting to encroach on a chicken coop. She said when Ridgecrest Police Department Officer Candace Robbs and a Police and Community Together volunteer came get the one cat, the other was reported from the next door neighbor. The cats are taken to a place near Walker Pass on Highway 14 where there is water, Stage explained.
    Many bobcats have been spotted in the area of Las Flores and Ridgecrest Boulevard near Brady Street.
    Bobcats do not necessarily run in packs but are not solitary hunters. But, this time of year bobcats go out in groups and families.
    “This is the season when parents are out teaching their young to hunt, and so they come out in bigger numbers,” Stage explained. “They’re doing what comes naturally, hunting and hunting for survival.”
    She added that bobcats are not necessarily afraid of people and have no reason to be. She said if left alone, they will act in kind. She explained “if they’re cornered” bobcats like any animal, domestic or wild, will defend themselves.
    She recommends people stay away from the cats.
    To keep the cats from coming too close to homes and pets, Stage said pet owners need to be vigilant. Animals and their food should be kept inside at night.
    A chicken coop is a tasty temptation for bobcats. Stage suggested fowl owners cover their entire chicken coop at night, the top, sides and entrance. Bobcats can climb trees and fences and can find a hole in a fence, gate or chicken coop.
    She also suggested bringing in smaller pets at night. She said many people in California have outside cats, but she suggests having a place for these animals to find refuge from possible bobcat attacks, such as a barn or shed. She said bobcats like most wild animals are most active at dusk and dawn.
    Page 2 of 2 - Stage explained that bobcats have always lived in the desert. Over the years a group of homes with water and food was developed in the middle of their home, namely the communities in the Indian Wells Valley. She explained that humans are encroaching on their homes.
    Building houses with lawns that need to be watered. The water puddles up and is easy for a bobcat or other wild animal to find.
    She added that bobcats have a large feeding area of many square miles.
    “We have to acclimate with the wildlife,” Stage explained. “We are surrounded by wildlife.”
    Spay and Neuter program
    Another way to keep family pets safe from wild predators is by taking some of the wild out of the domestic animal by spay or neutering. The Ridgecrest Animal Shelter offers monthly spay and neuter and microchip clinics monthly, thanks to the Mission Animal Hospital mobile unit from Palmdale.
    “Mission from Palmdale provides discount spay and neuter services to our community,” Stage said. She explained there are no other discounted spay or neuter services available in the area.
    She said the shelter is offering low cost and affordable adoptions to help reduce the population at the shelter that has been full for months. The discount spay and neuter program also makes for fewer runaway animals at the shelter.
    There are also discount vaccinations and microchopping available from the mobile unit. “The Indian Wells Valley Humane Society helps subsidize the costs,” Stage said.
    The microchipping is a device to help with identification of the animal. Chilly Dog, a successfully adopted dog was “chipped” at the clinic last week. The entire process took just a second, Chilly received a shot and it was over.
    Mission has been traveling to Ridgecrest at the behest of Stage for the past three years.
    The mobile clinic handles 30 to 40 animals a visit. The unit comes with its own trained staff, arrives the night before and spends money to stay in local hotels then spends all day before returning to Palmdale.
    Stage said she was very appreciative of Mission’s time and effort.
    “The program wouldn’t happen without her,” a Mission veterinarian said of Stage.
    The spay and neuter requires an appointment but the microchipping can be done as a walk-in. The clinics are held the third Tuesday of every month.
    For more information about the clinics, or adopting a pet or to donate to the shelter, visit the Ridgecrest Animal Shelter on Facebook or call the shelter at 760-499-5190.

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