April 30th, 2013 by

Orphaned bobcat Chips

Chips is fed formula by a fire information officer after her rescue. Her proximity to humans during her recovery had rescuers worried. (US Forest Service photo)

Last September, Michelle shared a story that pulled our heartstrings: the tale of Chips, an orphaned bobcat kitten who was rescued by workers after losing her mother and suffering second-degree burns and an eye infection in the Chips Fire in California’s Plumas National Forest.

As you may recall, the young Chips was recovering at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care last fall, where rescuers planned to heal and then socialize her in preparation for her return to the wild.

Well, Chips’ journey in the world of humans has, at last, reached its happy ending, as she was recently released into the wild. But it wasn’t a straight and easy road.

Orphaned bobcat Chips

Chips, now wary of humans, growls at the camera shortly before her release. (Photo courtesy Robert Campbell, volunteer and rehabilitation worker, Sierra Wildlife Rescue)

After being nursed back to health, Chips was a little too comfortable around humans, and rescuers worried that she might not be able to survive out there on her own. So, they transferred her to Sierra Wildlife Rescue in Placerville, Calif., where she was placed in a den with other rescued bobcats. Among her own kind, Chips learned to chase down her own food — live mice released into the den by staff — and eventually became wary of humans, hiding when staff approached the den. Finally, at eight months old, Chips was judged ready for the wild and was released on April 19th.

The kitten’s trials show how important it is for wildlife to have a suitably sized habitat free of human influence. Some animals, such as certain species of songbirds or rodents, are important parts of the urban ecosystem and backyard biodiversity. But others, like Chips and her kind, need many acres of wilderness to thrive. Help us restore wildlife habitat so future rehabilitated wildlife orphans like Chips will continue to have a home to go back to.

Good luck out there, Chips!