Conserve Wildlife Blog

Eagles, Vultures and a Kitten

September 15th, 2021

By: CWF biologist Larissa Smith

This is the second year that the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species program along with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ have set up a “soft release” area for juvenile eagles that were found grounded and cared for at Rehabilitation centers. The site is in a remote area of Cumberland County where staff and volunteers provide supplemental food (fish and road-killed mammals) in a safe place, and where other juvenile and sub-adult eagles would provide the social learning they needed. Trail cameras were installed to document eagle use. 

The site had attracted juveniles, sub-adults, and adult eagles on a regular basis, as well as black and turkey vultures on a daily basis. At the end of August a tiny kitten showed up on the game cam. The kitten was hanging out with the vultures, eating frozen bunker and road kill.

Other stray cats have shown up on the game cam before but this kitten was making regular appearances. When a volunteer dropped off frozen bunker the kitten came out to eat while the volunteer was still at the site.

photo by: John King

With the help of a local woman we trapped the kitten. The kitten is a female and she had to be feisty and tough to survive, but to my surprise she was also super sweet. She was covered in fleas, hundreds of tiny ticks and full of worms from eating road kill. She was just under 3lbs and 3 months old. We named her Maple and she was adopted by Eagle Project volunteers Sharon & Wade Wander. They report that she is doing well and is a playful and happy girl.

Maple in her new home September 8th, 2021

It is a miracle that she survived out there with all the predators, (she would have been an easy meal for an eagle) . Maple is a lucky kitten. Thanks to everyone who made it possible for Maple to go from being a wild cat to a pampered family member.

6 Responses to “Eagles, Vultures and a Kitten”

  1. Jill Brown says:

    Oh how sweet! Glad the kitten didn’t turn into a meal!

  2. Monica Cardoza says:

    Great read. Thanks.

  3. Barb McKee says:

    Awwww! She is so sweet and adorable! So glad she found a loving forever home. I meant to mention this when you first sent out the photos to Eagle Project volunteers when looking to find a home for her: She appears to be polydactyl!! Extra toe in front? Just adds to her appeal! Perhaps it is just the photo, but it surely looks like she has lots of toes up front!!

  4. Frank Budney says:

    It’s true. Cats really do have nine lives. Maple beat the odds and lived to tell her story. Cats must have a guardian angel, too. Glad someone stepped up to adopt this lucky kitten.

  5. Unfortunately, it is so widespread when animals aren’t under protection and are endangered but there are such a small number of organizations which provide them with safety and this situation requires attention. But starting reading your article, I was delighted because you could awaken the most sensitive feelings in me and I think, this “soft release” area can’t leave anyone indifferent. The desire and initiative of NJ Endangered & Nongame Species program to create such a beneficial project which is aimed to care about eagles, providing them with food and safe-refuge is absolutely not typical and incredible at the same time, deserving a huge respect. I can’t express in what measure Maple is cute and I can’t imagine how this little miracle could survive in such harsh conditions, but I’m so happy that this kitty could find happiness and a home with people who love her, being in favourable conditions.

  6. Charles Allen says:

    great story. lucky kitten!

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