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Death of Alabama Bobcats

May 11, 2014 in Admin

Global Federation gives full accreditation to BCR giving them visibility and support as a credible 501(c)(3), however, it is our opinion that  BCR not only uses fraud to raise funds, they also commit acts of extreme cruelty upon animals, including the big cats they purport to give so much care.

In April of 2010, Big Cat Rescue went to Alabama to pick up three baby bobcats from an animal clinic. The Alabama clinic thought they were contacting a reputable bobcat rehabber and felt they were putting the babies into good hands. Big Cat Rescue led the animal clinic to believe that the cats would be released back into the wild. However, nine months later, all three babies were dead, after much controversy surrounding the feeding of live prey to the babies, specifically white domestic rabbits, which the baby bobcats would never encounter in the wild.

The fact that the babies were not well cared for, as evidenced by their deaths, Big Cat Rescue claimed that they were going to release the baby bobcats back into the wild, when they knew that this was not permitted by either State. The fact that BCR uses fraudulent information to secure donations should not be sanctioned by any organization that is vouching for the properness of charitable organizations.

If you look at the newsletter of Big Cat Rescue, summer issue, 2010, the headline story shows a picture of the baby bobcats, with the headline “Orphaned bobcat trio rescued from Alabama. Bobcat kittens get a second chance at freedom.” It is in this lead article that Big Cat Rescue says that it was agreed that BCR would take the babies back to Florida and prepare them for release. This is a lie, told to both the Alabama animal clinic and to the unsuspecting public reading the BCR newsletter. BCR knew very well that the baby bobcats would never be released in Florida because Florida does not allow wildlife from other States to be released in Florida, BCR knew this when they picked up the babies in Alabama.

If BCR were to release the bobcats into Florida forests, they would be breaking the law. If they kept them, they are lying to the public. And the only reason to lie, is to be able to raise as much money as possible, no matter if it is done by lies or truthful accomplishments. The newsletter article states how critical it is that the babies not have human contact and bonding if they are to be released, and yet there is a picture of someone at BCR holding one of the baby bobcats and feeding it with a baby bottle.
Further evidence that they knew even as they wrote the article, that they had no intentions of ever releasing the bobcats.

It is outrageous to me that a supposed charitable organization would so purposefully dupe the public and yet remain a “credible” organization. It is only through ignorance of true facts that anyone continues to donate to this organization. At the very least, their behavior is unethical, at the most, it surely must be illegal. It most certainly is fraud. In the fall issue of the newsletter, they continue the baby bobcat saga regarding their progress towards release and tell about the feeding of live rats, how much the feeding costs, and asking for donations to help with this because they have to feed them for a year. We have since learned that FWC has time limits on release and most bobcats are released within 6 to 8 months, so to make the public think that this takes a year is more fraudulent information. In this issue, they tell of the deaths of three additional big cats, one from kidney failure, one died in its sleep and one from severe arthritis and kidney failure. Two of the three were put to sleep. While the newsletter states that these cats were old, I can only wonder how much longer they might have lived had they been at a different facility, since bobcats tend to live 30-32 years in captivity, and tigers 15-20 years. With proper care and diet, I would expect that a credible wildlife rescue facility would be providing long and healthy lives to its subjects. It is shocking to me how many of the animals at BCR seem to have kidney problems.

It is of great concern how many animals die at the hands of BCR. In 2010, they put down 4 tigers, which they had for 6 years. The article about the tigers, in the same issue of the newsletter, says that all of the teeth of the animal were infected. How can that be if he was in the care of BCR for six years? Obviously you did not properly take care of him or he would not have been suffering from gum disease so severe that all of his teeth would have had to be pulled. Instead of trying to fix this and pull his teeth and care for him, they said he had meningitis and put him down. All four tigers were put down or died in 2010 — one for severe arthritis, another died mysteriously in the night, one because his small body could not keep up with his stamina (whatever that means) and one for infections and seizures. Also, in this same newsletter is an article about one of the other big cats having kidney disease and kidney stones. Does anyone monitor the care or lack of care that BCR gives to its captive animals? Does anyone go to investigate the organization and its facilities on a regular basis, or are they just given a clean bill of health at the initial review and that is good for life?

In fact, all three baby bobcats, which “were scheduled to be released in the spring of 2011” are dead. The male died only a few months old, from heart failure, which BCR claims was from a heart defect from birth. This is reported in the winter, 2010 newsletter, where BCR states that when the other two were released in the spring, they would miss their brother. Then, in the first newsletter of 2011, BCR reports that another of the babies died, as a result of a “variety of health deficiencies.” The newsletter claims that the third one remains strong, but it is now dead too, supposedly of parvo.

BCR never stopped defrauding the public about the future release of these bobcats, knowing full well it was illegal to do so. The count of dead animals, just in 2010, and according to BCR newsletters as the only source of information, was 16, more than 10% of the total population of cats at the rescue. According to BCR, all of these cats were born in the 1990s, but big cats should live longer lives in captivity, not shorter.

People who might be considering donations to BCR should be aware of the fraudulent fundraising information, be aware of the controversy surrounding the deaths of animals at BCR, outdated practices (including the feeding of live prey) used by BCR, and fraudulent information regarding the animals in their care that BCR broadcasts in newsletters, and social networks on the internet to secure donations.
BCR reports that it raised 1.8 million in 2009 from its various activities, making it a very successful fundraiser but it’s practices and death records do not make it an ethical or successful caretaker of wildlife.

————————————————————————————–
Mon 4/18/2011
Alabama Division Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

There is no Alabama investigation. By the time Alabama was notified of the bobcats they were in Florida. The Vets assistant who had the kittens was under the impression that Carole Baskin (or her employees) had the proper paperwork and was authorized to take the cats based on permits issued by Florida. She was duped. The The US Fish and Wildlife Service declined to intercede. Therefore the only agency that has jurisdiction left is Florida. The bobcats in question are deceased. Even if they were alive we would not allow them back to Alabama as we prohibit the importation of bobcats. We would not know if those were the same cats or what diseases they may have been exposed to. All your inquiries need to be addressed to Florida.

This case is being handled by Florida FWC. Alabama has no jurisdiction in Florida and Carole Baskin cannot be extradited to Alabama for Misdemeanor offenses.

Capt Mark T Rouleau
Law Enforcement Supervisor
Alabama Division Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
64 N Union St, RM 559
Montgomery, Al 36130
334-242-3467

—————————————————————————————-
Date: Thursday, April 21, 2011, 8:40 AM
Dear Linda,

Licensing, permitting possession of captive wildlife, as well as import permitting, is through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission You can obtain more information from their Law Enforcement office in Tallahassee at 850-488-6253, and their web site: http://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/captive-wildlife/

Any animal that enters Florida is also required by our regulations to have a health certificate issued by a licensed and federally accredited veterinarian in the state of origin, within 30 days of entry.

Best Regards,
For Dr. Thomas J. Holt, Director Division of Animal Industry, State Veterinarian Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Sam R Lamb DVM
FDACS, Bureau of Animal Disease Control

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2011, 1:55 PM
The certificate you attached is not an Alabama health certificate. The Department of Agriculture, State Vet office in Alabama, would have a copy of any certificate written by Alabama// veterinarians on this shipment, and may or/ be a better source for you to obtain a copy. Their telephone number is 3/34-240-7255.

Also, as mentioned below, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission requires issuance of a separate permit by their office for this shipment, since by law anyone who transports captive wildlife or non-native species into Florida is required to obtain a transport permit from FWC. They can be reached at 850-488-6253, and may also be able to provide you with a copy of the permit for bringing in these big cats. I am copying their office to see if they can assist you with this.

Sam R Lamb DVM
FDACS, Bureau of Animal Disease Control

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2011, 4:41 PM
Linda,

A quick search of health certificate records for last year from Alabama did not show the import health certificate you are looking for. There will be no charge for the search.

There could be a couple of reasons that we do not have any health certificate in our files:
(1) the shipper may not have used an official Alabama interstate health certificate, and may have used only the USDA form which you attached to your 1st email (Record of Disposition, copy not completed), or

(2) if a separate Alabama interstate health certificate was obtained, the veterinarian in Alabama may not have sent copies to the Alabama state vet office, who in turn sends the state of destination a copy.

Sincerely,
Sam R Lamb DVM
FDACS, Bureau of Animal Disease Control
Date: Friday, April 22, 2011, 4:22 PM
Dear Ms. Linda,

As follow up to your call this afternoon, the Alabama veterinary clinic confirmed that an official health certificate was issued for movement of the animals into Florida. A copy was provided to the shipper and sent the state vet copy to the Alabama state vet’s office. There is no apparent violation of our rules for importation.

As to concerns of the deaths of the cubs within the past year, our office would not normally be involved, as this would be a matter for the owners and their private veterinarian to handle. Any allegations of abuse or neglect or complaints of inadequate husbandry for a captive wildlife rescue organization should be directed to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Regards,

Sam R Lamb DVM
FDACS, Bureau of Animal Disease Control

Date: Monday, April 25, 2011, 9:29 AM
Here’s what we received.
Sam R Lamb DVM
FDACS, Bureau of Animal Disease Control
SEE NON-LEGIBLE HEALTH CERTIFICATE BELOW
————————————————————————————

 

Re: Permit not filled out properly, but issued by FWC

— On Sun, 5/1/11, Marlow, Jason wrote:
From: Marlow, Jason

Date: Sunday, May 1, 2011, 8:40 PM
Linda,

Here are the answers to the questions below:
1. The Permit Section that reads “Purpose” of importing the Bobcats is not completed on the permit. Who is responsible to follow up or review the permits?
At the time the permit was issued I’m not aware of the specific protocols. A supervisor now signs off on the permit.

2. Please advise if this is standard FWC procedure to issue permits that are not properly filled out.
No. It appears this was an oversight.

Captain Jason Marlow
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Division of Law Enforcement – Investigations / Captive Wildlife
—————————————————————-

Animal Clinic released bobcats:
On Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 12:28 PM
opppawsandclaws@gmail.com> wrote:

ok. . that/ll be godd. we are all disapointed that we wont get to see their eyes open but we are excited that they are going to be released into the wild where they should be. . thanks for all of your help.

On Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM, Carole Baskin < carole.baskin@bigcatrescue.org> wrote:
They are precious. I had to go over the heads of the clerks who have been holding up our permit to their Captain. He just emailed me back and said he is looking into it, so I hope to get the permit today.
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Carole.Baskin@BigCatRescue.org
http://www.BigCatRescue.org

Caring for cats – Ending the trade
—————————————————————-

According to Google search:  The Bobcats Death Notification- was posted on the Big Cat Rescue Website June 1, 2011 – 4 months after the last bobcat Midnight died- however, donation links were still active on several websites for the bobcats prior this posting on June 1st.

 Currently on  6-3-2012   Midnight is stated to have died on Feb. 26, 2011.   Yet the FWC report states Midnight died on February 28, 2011.

Midnight Rain and Storm Have Died
Three Orphaned Bobcat Kittens

It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Apr 3, 2012 14:00:21

Big Cat Rescue has a tremendous success rate when it comes to rehab and release of wild bobcats that other facilities cannot even come close to matching.  National statistics state that 70% of  rehab bobcats don’t survive to release.  Most zoos report an 80% mortality rate in captive born, mother-rejected wildcats.  In more than 20 years of rehabbing wild bobcats we have had a mortality rate of less than 10%.  That is due largely to the fact that we devote far more time, energy and funds into insuring success for the cats in our care.

But sometimes that isn’t enough.

In 2010 we got a call from at veterinary clinic saying that a hunter had brought in a bag full of bobcat kittens stating that he had shot their mother and wanted the clinic to raise the kittens up for his kids to have as pets.  The clinic called the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to find a rehabber but no one would accept the kittens.  The clinic was not an appropriate environment for the purpose of rehabbing bobcats to be released back to the wild and they certainly weren’t going to turn them over to the man who had brought them in, so in desperation they called Big Cat Rescue.

We also searched the Internet for anyone else closer by who would take the orphaned bobcat kittens.  We often work with rehabbers in other states and even if they haven’t raised bobcats for release we will help them via consultation throughout the process.  Most of the sites we found were no longer in business and none of the ones who were would take them.  Meanwhile the clinic only had access to KMR which usually causes diarrhea and death in bobcat kittens.  Something had to be done immediately, or the kittens would die.

Big Cat Rescue asked for an emergency import permit from the Florida Wildlife Commission to bring the babies to Florida and the FWC acted quickly despite typically long turn around times.  The first order of business was to save the kittens lives and if we succeeded we would work with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to try and release them back into their native habitat where they belonged.

The bobcat kittens, named Midnight, Rain and Storm, had been housed at the previous veterinary clinic with puppies.  I am sure the people there figured warm bodies would be good for the youngsters, but it appears that they were exposed to Parvo this way.  We still are not sure because in 20 years of doing necropsies whenever a cat dies, we almost never know with certainty what killed them.  It just isn’t like T.V. where you always know the cause of death.  We continue to pay the exorbitant costs of the necropsy though because we always want to do everything in our power to make sure our colony of exotic cats are protected from anything that we can.

It is not standard procedure to vaccinate rehab animals because a live virus vaccine could cause them to carry the disease back into wild populations and a killed virus vaccine is not known to be effective.  It had not been our practice to vaccinate wild bobcats for Parvo or Distemper as it is usually called in cats.  We had never lost a bobcat to anything that even remotely resembled Parvo or Distemper and had felt it was better to count on the cat’s own immune system to be built up naturally to protect them from any future exposure.  In the wake of these kittens dying, from what could possibly have been Parvo or Distemper, we have changed our policies to include vaccination with a killed virus in future rehab bobcats despite the careful quarantine that we already practice.

All three of the bobcat kittens died very suddenly and with no signs of illness.  We monitor the rehab cats via closed circuit television surveillance and had no reason to suspect that any of them were ill.   As you can see from the documentation below, when Storm died we found no evidence of Parvo or Distemper and did find a thickening of the heart wall.  When Rain died we found the same heart wall thickening and the perforated intestine, but she tested negative for Parvo or Distemper as well.  It wasn’t until Midnight, the last to die, that there was a positive necropsy finding for Parvo.  That finding made sense of the previous perforation in Rain because there had been no foreign body causing it and it is common to Parvo.  Rain’s necropsy had tested negative for Parvo though, so at the time of her death, we still had no reason to think that Midnight could be positive.

We had done everything we could to give these kittens a second chance at living free.  We were in discussion with both the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Florida Wildlife Commission to try and arrange release for them when they became adults.  The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was being unresponsive so we were asking the FWC if we could release them at the FL / AL border into a national park that spans both states as the cats really don’t care about property lines.  We don’t know what the result would have been in our quest to find them a patch of wilderness to call their own.

After reviewing the FWC Report:  BCR Ivestigative Report A Bobcats

The first bobcat died from “cardiomyopothy” the second from a ruptured duodenum and finally the third was diagnosed with Panleukepenia.

1.  Domestic short hair cats Can quite often be found with Cardiomyopothy but it is Also found in cats that have been diagnosed with Panleukopenia.

2.  The ruptured duodenum is quite often caused from frequent vomiting and diarrhea which goes along with the disease of Panleukemia.

3.  The last cat died from Panleukemia.

Panleukopenia (feline distemper)  is highly preventable with a vaccination with an incubation period of 3-9 days.  The bobcats could not have had Panleukopenia when they arrived at BCR where they were mingled with a domestic house cat which cannot be vaccinated when lactating.  No exotic cat should be exposed to any other felines either domesticated or exotic until they have the second series of vaccinations under their belt. AZA guidelines mandate this. It is the golden rule.

Carole Baskin claims the clinic that took the bobcats in housed them with puppies exposing them to Parvo.  When Factually the Parvo Virus in cats is different than the parvo virus that dogs get.  It is actually a virus called panleukopenia, but is sometimes called feline parvo because the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of canine parvo virus.

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