Nick Skarmeas cuts a large panel from the bobcat enclosure in half.

By Leah Shaw

Michelle Woods supports Levi Farlee as he cuts down panels overhead.

AmeriCorps NCCC Maple 7 team benefitted greatly from their time spent deconstructing bobcat habitats and learning about the Captive Wildlife Crisis with The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota.

In the first two weeks, the team successfully took down four bobcat enclosures and created built-in shelving units for the maintenance building. Maple 7 learned how to efficiently use bolt cutters, ladders, and loppers to take metal enclosures down with as little damage as possible to the surrounding foliage.

In addition to their physical work, every Monday, Maple 7 had the opportunity to learn more in depth about the Captive Wildlife Crisis, and the steps they can take to prevent this crisis and spread the word. This is achieved through documentaries such as “The Elephant in the Living Room”, which stresses the dangers of having exotic animals as pets and how much the exotic animals trade has grown in the United States.

“The additional service learning at the Wildcat Sanctuary really opened my eyes to how serious the captive wildlife crisis is in the United States. It makes me want to be an advocate for these cats and be more vocal about the problem,” says member Brian Shaffer.

Leah Shaw washes maple syrup buckets during an ISP at Audubon Center of the North Woods.

In addition, the team completed multiple Independent Service Projects (ISPs) with Audubon Center of the North Woods, which is a non-profit residential environmental learning center and a wildlife rehabilitation facility. When they weren’t working, Maple 7 spent their time hiking the trails in Banning State Park in Sandstone.

Maple 7 wrapped up their service with The Wildlife Sanctuary on May 29 and is now serving with the Floyd County Conservation in Marble Rock, Iowa. The team is focusing on brush removal and tree clearing in addition to improving trail accessibility throughout the park.