The truth on bobcat poop 

Ranger Rich

We are one people inhabiting one planet and have gone too long, I believe, without a serious scientific and environmental discussion of Lynx rufus and how that species right here in our village has been impacted by human-caused Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

Here you are probably saying to yourself, "Dear God almighty, he's going to write an entire column about bobcats with diarrhea!"

But you would be wrong. Because I'm also going to touch upon — and perhaps that's a poor choice of phrases in a discussion of diarrhea — mountain lions and bears with the runs, too, including a round of Make Your Own Joke in which the punch line should be, "Wooo-eee, now that bear REALLY #%^&s in the woods."

The subject was introduced in the September issue of the popular magazine Journal of Clinical Microbiology. (The cover photo shows Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach dousing homeless people with anti-bacterial bleach before allowing them into City Hall.)

The article is titled "Zoonotic Parasites of Bobcats Around Human Landscapes." A good example of "human landscape" is our newly re-elected U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who is as dumb as a shrub.

The point is that bobcats can become sick from living in our neighborhoods — drinking from standing water pools in our yards and subdivision drainage areas.

"The growing interaction of humans and wildlife means that we now share our diseases with each other at an ever-increasing rate," said infectious disease expert Sam Scheiner, who, if he had more time, would have added that the two greatest sources of infectious diseases are phony hero Lance Armstrong's medicine cabinet and, of course, Charlie Sheen.

Here's more from the article on bobcat doo-doo: "In this study we screened a large number of bobcat (Lynx rufus) fecal samples for zoonotic enteric parasites and evaluated determinants of shedding and exposure in relation to human-occupied landscapes."

Which leads to the obvious question as it relates to the scientific collection method of feline fecal matter: Didn't the bobcats become startled and run away when scientists slid the Gazette editorial page under them as they were pooping?

We don't know. What we do know, however, is the study focused on Boulder and its bobcat poop, which smelled like Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger herbal tea, and bobcat doody from California, where studies found the only thing more disgusting than the fresh bobcat scat is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And while our own village's bobcats — I've taken photos of some of them near my home adjacent to the Air Force Academy — were not part of the study, scientist Sue VandeWoude of Colorado State University says it's likely our bobcats also have human-linked parasites such as Giardia.

"Bobcats there would get it the same way people get it," she says of our area. "Drinking from contaminated water sources, just like if you were camping. We would imagine that wolves, mountain lions and bears are susceptible, too."

Even though contaminated water would make our village bobcats ill, their biological survival skills would keep them from showing it — just like our City Council members when they listen to Mayor Bach speak.

Collecting wild bobcat poop — a hobby, by the way, that is far more enjoyable than golf — involves tracking the animals, preferably in snow. Researchers either find the scat on the ground or live-trap the animals, tranquilize them and extract a fecal sample.

(Footnote: The same method will be used by the Republican Party in 2016 to determine its best presidential candidate, who will then go on to lose.)

Scientists hope to conduct more studies on pathogen circulation from humans to animals. From the report: "Future research (of) other wildlife, particularly Puma concolor ... will contribute a better empirical understanding of multihost parasite dynamics."

Puma concolor is the scientific name for the mountain lion. And here in the wildlife-human interface zone of the Rocky Mountains, experts offer these important safety tips if you encounter a mountain lion with the runs: Face the mountain lion, make yourself appear larger by waving your hands over your head, and then distract the animal by tossing a roll of toilet paper near him.

Rich Tosches (rangerrich@csindy.com) also writes a Sunday column for the Denver Post.


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