provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife
Although 70 percent of Sanibel is preserved land for the sanctuary of wildlife, urbanization of the island still poses significant threats to on-island wildlife, especially larger mammals such as bobcats. An increase in infrastructure can lead to detrimental effects on native species including window and car strikes, habitat fragmentation, destruction, and other injuries due to human influence.
Bobcats are widely distributed throughout Southwest Florida and play a crucial role in the health and biodiversity of the ecosystems they inhabit. In areas where predator presence is low, consumers lower in the food chain can rapidly increase in population size. This can lead to over-consumption of vegetation, poorer condition of individuals, and higher rates of starvation. Bobcats prey upon rodents and other small mammals which aid in maintaining plant diversity; due to their role in the environment, bobcats are considered a keystone species. Male bobcats are known to occupy a territory of up to 30 miles.
Last week, our hospital team received a call about a bobcat (22-535) found injured on a Sanibel construction site. When our staff arrived on the scene, it was clear the cat had fallen from a significant height landing on a piece of rebar which impaled the cat’s hind end. Rehabilitation staff worked fast and cautiously to secure the bobcat using large nets while Veterinary Medicine Intern, Dr. Laura K., sedated the cat so it didn’t continue to struggle and cause any further injury to itself. Once the sedation set in, hospital staff kept the bobcat stable while a construction worker used a saw to cut the rebar from the concrete so the bar and bobcat could be brought into the hospital together. Leaving the rebar in allowed our staff to bring the cat to the clinic to evaluate any injury before attempting to remove it.
The bobcat was placed under general anesthesia and x-rays revealed the rebar chipped his pelvic bone, but luckily missed vital organs and arteries. The rebar pipe was removed at the clinic leaving a large hole contaminated with dirt, mud, and rebar pieces. An ultrasound revealed no free fluid in the abdomen. Hospital staff placed a catheter and immediately began prepping the bobcat for surgery. Medical and Research Director, Dr. Heather B., thoroughly flushed the wound with sterile saline, removed the fractured pieces of bone, and placed a penrose drain before closing the entrance and exit wounds. Pain medications were administered, and the bobcat was monitored until he began to recover from surgery.
About two hours after surgery, hospital staff noted the bobcat was laboriously breathing so they provided additional oxygen. Veterinarians were concerned there may have been an upper airway obstruction as the bobcat continued to cough and struggle to breathe. Staff anesthetized and intubated the bobcat to provide supplemental breath. The bobcat went into cardiac arrest and our staff quickly began performing CPR and administering adrenaline. Despite these efforts, the bobcat had passed on. Veterinarians suspect the cause of this sudden decline could have been a pulmonary thromboembolism (blood clot that traveled to the lung blocking blood flow). Hospital staff will perform a necropsy to evaluate cause of death.
Human development whether it be commercial or residential has continued to directly and indirectly impact wildlife. Heartbreaking situations such as these serve as a reminder of how lucky we are to have a passionate, capable, and driven team. The bobcat was rescued thanks to our hospital staff’s communication, urgency, and teamwork in the face of an emergency. Though this beautiful cat could not be saved, our staff exhausted every effort to give him a fighting chance. The dedication exhibited in this scenario exemplifies the care our wild patients receive from our commendable network of staff, students, and volunteers.
THIS WEEK AT CROW (2/18-2/25):
There were 19 new patients admitted to CROW this week, including a barn owl, 3 brown pelicans, 3 eastern cottontails, 2 eastern gray squirrels, 2 gray catbirds, a gray squirrel, a green sea turtle, 2 mourning doves, a northern mockingbird, a northern raccoon, a reddish egret, and a snapping turtle . Recent releases include a great egret and a common snapping turtle. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases.
Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year. Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center, 3883 Sanibel Captiva Rd.
About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond. Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.