Anyone who has visited Precious Life Animal Sanctuary during the last 12 years is well aware of the unique rescued rabbit enclosure. It is one of the largest in the United States and, due to its construction, makes it impossible for any rabbit to escape. The three-quarter acre enclosure is completely netted on top to deter any raptors from entering it. It worked well for 11 years. Since the time of its inception, we have not lost one rabbit to any kind of predator.
During the harsh winter of 2017, the netting became badly torn from the weight of the snow and ice on the 2-inch netting and had to be completely replaced with 4-inch mesh netting to eliminate the buildup of snow and ice. It was a very expensive undertaking and thanks to all of you who donated we were able to have it completed in one day.
Some time during March of this year, we found a gruesome sight with a rabbit with its head cut off and missing and the body untouched which was slowly eaten later. In the beginning, it occurred every two weeks and then increased to twice a week. As one can imagine, it was an emotional sight as many of the rabbits are named and have become accustomed to human companionship.
We immediately put out humane traps with every kind of bait, but the decapitated rabbits continued to occur. We did all the research by contacting other sanctuaries, Federal Fish and Wildlife agencies, biologists and experts in the field at a State College in Nebraska who all concluded it had to be a weasel or a member of the weasel family (mink, fisher, ferret). All these creatures could easily go through the space of a cyclone fence. Since the decapitation continued to occur even with our best efforts, we contacted professional trappers regulated by the Washington State Fish and Wildlife.
The initial trapper set out soft leg hold traps and trail cameras. As the weeks went by, the rabbits continued to be killed and his cameras showed nothing. In frustration, we hired another trapper who was convinced he could solve the problem. He set up snare traps, soft leg hold traps and cameras as well. He, too, was unsuccessful and his cameras showed nothing. The death of rabbits continued. Since both professional trappers were a failure and we had spent $600 in expenses, we purchased our own trail camera and within 2 days found the perpetrator.
As the enclosed picture shows it is a bobcat that stupefied everyone including the “professionals”. Somehow he can wedge his whole body through a 4-inch mesh by holding on the side bars of the enclosure. We have come up with a fix by installing a large skirting of 2-inch wire netting on top of the 4-inch netting which will not allow the bobcat to enter. The fix will mean laying out the wire netting and fastening it with rings and ties. In a few places, small step ladders will be used.
We would appreciate any volunteers as the gruesome deaths will continue until we can prevent it
Our worries of a volunteer turnout on Saturday, June 23, on short notice in a time of need, evaporated with those dedicated committed individuals who showed up. Their efforts, their skills, attention to detail and joyously working together made it possible to complete the task in one day. By reducing the size of the overhead netting, it will prevent the bobcat(s) from entering to decimate our rescued rabbit population.
This was not an easy task as much of the work was accomplished on ladders while reaching overhead in a warm temperature. Afterward, we all enjoyed each others' company over a vegan lunch.Special thanks to Matt Chaney, Robin and Tom from the Tacoma Humane Society, Debra Knutson, John Mash, and our two faithful volunteers, Elaine and Ken, without whom we couldn't continue.
The conversation was extremely interesting since we had Jim Myers, Co-Founder of Animal Aid Unlimited Sanctuary in India along with members of his family who volunteered on the project. Animal Aid Unlimited is unsurpassed in what they have accomplished in India.
For the animals,
Ralph and and Caryl Turner
If you could not come to the work party but would like to help you can help defray the cost of materials and expenses: