BOBCAT ATROCITY Discovered by local JT resident

Local resident, Tom O’Key, discovers a hidden Bobcat live-trap on his private property, set to capture a Bobcat (disregarding size, age, gender) solely for stripping the skin and fur off the animal to be sold to a buyer in a foreign country for up to $600 US dollars.

 
Photo Credit: Feb 2009 by “Martha”, a resident of the south eastern portion of Joshua Tree, at her “pond”. While Bobcats get thirsty for fresh water from time to time, they will depart from their otherwise nocturnal habit and venture out of their night-time comfort zone to partake in a hand-out of raw chicken, during daylight. This gal would appear 2, maybe 3 times a week.
 
 
A Los Angeles Times article – By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times – February 11, 2013
 
JOSHUA TREE —  Annica Kreuter’s backyard on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park has been a perfect place to chronicle the adventures of eight bobcats.
Over the last decade she has watched a young bobcat chased up a tree by a coyote; an alpha male surveying the landscape from the hood of her car; a kitten sauntering into the yard as she gardens; a matron sniffing the back of Kreuter’s neck as she napped on a hammock.
Lately, seven of the eight have vanished. “At sunrise, I hear the one that is still here crying for his family,” Kreuter said.
She and others in this high desert community of about 8,000 say bobcats have been disappearing lately, killed for the value of their pelts by trappers who often trespass on private property.
The trappers come armed with wire cages, squirt bottles of potent scent and bobcat lures: battery-powered vibrating pet toys festooned with feathers to resemble dying birds.
Hunting and trapping bobcats is legal during hunting season outside of the national park boundaries. But to the locals, that makes little difference. “The very idea of trapping in a place where bobcats are so well-known they have nicknames — Big Gray, Leroy, Tomboy — is disturbing and heartbreaking,” Kreuter said.
As one of the top predators of a 720,000-acre park visited by 1.4 million people each year, the bobcat’s presence — or absence — has a cascade of consequences, making it a governing force of the ecosystem and the local ecotourism economy. An adult bobcat stands about 15 inches high and can cover 25 to 30 miles of territory in a day. Using razor-sharp claws and powerful legs, it preys on rabbits and makes a significant contribution to rodent control.
Critics believe the trappers are after bobcats that routinely crisscross the invisible park boundary lines.
“This is really, really bad,” said astronomer and conservationist Tom O’Key, who was the first to discover a trap. “These guys are carpetbaggers coming onto private land to slaughter bobcats with no regard for a tight-knit community that cares deeply about the national park and its wildlife.”
O’Key alerted the community after finding a trap chained to a jojoba bush and camouflaged with broken branches and leaves on his property north of the park. He notified the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Hi-Desert Star newspaper.
Bobcats are being targeted for the value of their pelts in top-dollar markets such as China, Russia and Greece. A premium pelt of heavily spotted white belly fur can earn a trapper more than $600, according to Nathan Brock, who skinned 10 bobcats that he captured in the Joshua Tree area during the hunting season that ended Jan. 31, 2013.
Brock, 38, an active-duty Marine stationed at nearby Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base, acknowledged that one of his traps was set on private property and not on federal Bureau of Land Management grounds, where trapping is legal. The region is a patchwork of private property and BLM land.
“I feel horrible about that,” Brock said. “It’s my fault for not making sure.”
The manufacturer of Brock’s trap, Mercer Lawing of Barstow, said critics miss the point. “We love those animals more than the people who are complaining about us trapping them do,” Lawing said. “Nathan and I harvest adult male cats and turn loose adult females and kittens.”
The national park has taken a neutral position on the issue, given that its jurisdictional reach extends only as far as its boundaries.
However, park biologist Michael Vamstad said, “Residents have every right to be upset. The fact that there is no limit on bobcats that can be legally taken during hunting season doesn’t jibe along the edges of a national park. It’s a relic regulation.”
Conservationists are calling for a “no-trapping” buffer zone in the area because bobcats travel along a web of interconnected wildlife corridors stretching from the national park to the Marine base about 10 miles to the north.
“The law has to change if it’s legal for a handful of people to line the boundary of a national park with traps to catch bobcats, then send their pelts to China for profit,” said Brendan Cummings, public lands director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We are not going to let this happen again.”
Equally pointed words came from Nancy Karl, executive director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving safe passage for wildlife between protected areas. “We are watching and paying close attention — and we are going to change things,” Karl said. “Those trappers would be best advised to move it.”
louis.sahagun@latimes.com
Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times
While the JoshuaTreeStar.com avoids “copying” entire articles (as above) as an assault on the author’s ownership of an article published, I take this opportunity to alert our local population in the Morongo Basin to the problem centered here in Joshua Tree.
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NEW SUPPORTING WEB SITE : http://projectbobcat.org/
This web site was very recently set up as specifically concerned with the plight of the BobCat and concerns of sympathetic citizens. The web site has many resources and numerous highly professional bobcat photographs.

ProjectBobcat.org addresses several groups intent on conservation and provides expert background information on previous efforts to change the law concerning the trapping/hunting of the Bobcat throughout California. The web site appears to be managed by a local Morongo Basin resident.

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BOBCAT FAQs with photographs: 

/Photograph by Norbert Rosing for Nat’l Geographic
Bobcat Interesting Facts and Features
The Bobcat is also known as the Red Lynx (northern regions of North America) due to the fact that the two are very similar in appearance but the Bobcat tends to be much darker and richer in color than their northern relatives. They are incredibly secretive yet powerful animals that are able to pounce on their prey from up to 10+ feet (three meters) away before delivering a fatal bite, allowing Bobcats to also hunt animals that may be up to double their own size. Although Bobcats are generally quiet and not greatly vocal animals, the fierce growls and snarls that they make when they are hiding often leads people to believe that there is a Mountain Lion in the area.
Common Name: Bobcat  (aka “wildcat”)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felinae (Lynx)
Species: rufus
Sub-Species: L.r. escuinapae Mexican bobcat
Misc: This cat is named for its short tail.
 
Size and Appearance: The Bobcat is a medium sized cat with a ruff of fur around the sides of the face. They weigh between 13-30 pounds, stand 21 inches high and are 30-50 inches long. The bobcats in the North tend to be larger than those in the south. Their coat color varies and has been recorded in shades of light gray, yellowish-brown, buff-brown, and reddish-brown. They are always spotted to some extent, with some patterned only on the undersides, and others having spots on the sides and chest backs too. The southern Bobcats seem to have a more spotted coat, with the spots being much smaller than the northern cats. Both melanistic and albinistic Bobcats have been reported, but the melanistic ones have only occurred in Florida. They are often confused with their larger feline cousin the Lynx, but can be easily distinguished by their tail tips. The tail of the Lynx looks as though it was dipped in an inkwell being black all the way around, whereas the Bobcat’s tail appears to have been painted black on top and white on the bottom.
Bobcat Classification and Evolution
The Bobcat is a medium-sized wildcat that is found in a variety of habitats across the southern half of North America. They are widespread and adaptable predators that are closely related to the larger and more northerly dwelling Canadian Lynx with the biggest difference being that the Bobcat only has a small “bobbed” tail, from which it gets it’s name. Measuring about double the size of a domestic cat, the Bobcat has the greatest range of all North American felines but their secretive nature means that they are seldom seen by people. There are currently twelve recognized sub-species of Bobcat which vary in their coloration and geographic range, with individuals found in mountainous forest being darker with more markings than their lighter-colored cousins that are found in more arid, semi-desert regions.
Bobcat Anatomy and Appearance
Due to the fact that the Bobcat belongs to the same family as the Lynx, they are similar in appearance but not at all the same. The Bobcat is smaller in size and has smaller feet and ear tufts than the Canadian Lynx, and often tends to be darker in color. Bobcats have beige to brown or reddish fur that is mottled or spotted with the intensity of these markings depending on the individual and where it lives (those found in more open, arid areas tend to have fewer markings than those found amongst dense cover). The underside of the Bobcat is white so the darker spots are more distinctive and they also have a white tip to their short, black tail, which only grows to around 15cm in length . Like the larger Lynx, the Bobcat has ear tufts that are thought to heighten their hearing along with also having a ruff of longer fur around it’s face.
Distribution: United States, Mexico and Southern Canada. The Bobcat is the most widely distributed of all North American felines and is found across North America from southern parts of Canada right down to southern Mexico. They are incredibly versatile animals that have adapted to living in a variety of different habitats throughout the three different countries. Although Bobcats are known to prefer rocky hillsides that are well-vegetated, they are found in numerous different habitats throughout their natural range including mountain woodlands, coniferous forests, swampland, deserts and even in suburban areas in some places. The exact appearance of the Bobcat depends on what kind of habitat it is found in as the differing coat colors allow the individual to remain as camouflaged as possible in it’s native surroundings. The historical range of the Bobcat once extended right across North America but the capture of them for their fur and loss of their natural habitat has led to the disappearance of them in some areas.
Bobcat Behaviour and Lifestyle
The Bobcat is solitary and nocturnal animal that is most active in the darkness of night, tending to hunt most during dawn and dusk. During the day, Bobcats sleep and rest in dens in the form of a rock crevice or hollow tree with one individual having a number of dens within it’s home range. Bobcats are highly territorial and mark their ranges with scents from their urine and faeces and distinctive claw marks on trees to alert others of their presence. Males patrol a large home range which often overlaps a number of smaller female territories but the two will not interact until the breeding season which begins in the winter. At other times of the year though, Bobcats tend to avoid one another to reduce the chances of them being injured in a fight.
Bobcat Reproduction and Life Cycles
Bobcats can only be found together during the breeding season when both males and females can mate with multiple partners and after a gestation period that last for 8 – 10 weeks, the female Bobcat gives birth to a litter of 6 to 8 kittens in a safe and secluded den. Bobcat kittens are born blind and open their eyes after about 10 days, feeding on their mother’s milk until they are old enough to begin consuming meat. Most births occur in the late winter or early spring with Bobcat kittens usually remaining with their mother until the next winter when they are around eight months old and have learned how to hunt independently. Female Bobcats tend to have a single litter every year and after mating, the male Bobcat plays no part in rearing the young.
Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of approximately 50-70 days, females may produce a litter of 1-8 kittens, with the average being 2-3. They weigh 9.75 to 12 ounces at birth and will open their eyes at around 6 to 10 days. They are weaned between 3-4 months of age, and reach sexual maturity around 12 months for females, and 24 months for males.
In the wild, Bobcats live 12-13 years, and at the Big Cat Rescue facility they have lived over twenty years.
Social System and Communication: Solitary. Male territories will overlap that of many females and even to some extent another males, but female territories are exclusive. Males and females only come together at the breeding season, which is December to April.
Hunting and Diet: These tough little cats will eat almost anything, and are natural born survivors (except for man�s interference). Their primary diet is rabbit, but they also eat rodents, beaver, peccaries, birds and bats, and deer. They are also scavengers. The Bobcat is a carnivorous feline meaning that it only hunts and eats other animals in order to gain the nutrients that it needs to survive. Bobcats mainly hunt small mammals like Rabbits, Hares (jack rabbits) and Rodents along with Birds close to the ground and the occasional Lizard. During the harsher winter months they are also known to hunt larger animals including small deer and will also feed on fresh carrion. The Bobcat is an incredibly elusive predator that hunts its prey by stalking it silently in the dark before pouncing on it with incredible speed and force, and despite their size, Bobcats are known to be able to kill animals that are much larger than themselves. In areas where growing human settlements have encroached on the Bobcat’s natural habitat, they have also been known to take occasional livestock such as poultry and sheep and there are reports of Bobcats taking family pets. One report a few years ago cites a couple looking for their missing pet dog. They stumbled onto a small “hollow” among the rocks in which they also found their pet’s collar and tags. The dog was a 7-year old, 175 pound Shepard. 
Principal Threats: This little cat was the most heavily harvested and traded member of the cat family for several decades. In the 1970′s CITES** went into effect and the pelts of the Appendix 1 cats became illegal and unobtainable, the price offered to trappers for a Bobcat pelt went from $20.00 to $600.00. This also caused the number of Bobcats killed annually to rise from 10,000 to over 90,000 by the 1980s. The interest in Bobcat pelts today was declining due to international awareness of the cruel methods of trapping and prohibitions against trade of animals trapped using these methods up until 2008 when Russia began buying all the bobcat pelts they could get their hands on. This surge in demand threatens to wipe the bobcat out of America. The bobcat also battles the ever growing human population and its destruction of all habitat in its path. According to 2001 statistics provided from actual sales of hunting permits, over 40,000 bobcats are still being killed each year. This figure does not include all the bobcats killed by hunters who do not buy licenses nor report their kills.  Less than 3% of our population are hunters but they kill over 100 million animals each year for sport.
**CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/what.php
How rare is this cat? According to Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation group based in Washington D.C., there are about 750,000 to 1,020,000 bobcats as of 2009. The International Species Information Service lists 245 captive bobcats worldwide, with 191 being in U.S. zoos.
Bobcat Predators and Threats
The Bobcat is a fierce and dominant predator in it’s natural habitat with adult Bobcats therefore being threatened by few animals, the biggest concern to them being Cougars and Wolves. The small and vulnerable Bobcat kittens however, are preyed upon by a number of predators including Coyotes and Owls that are able to hunt the kittens while there mother is off hunting. The biggest threat to Bobcat populations throughout North America is people that have previously hunted the Bobcat to near extinction in some areas for their soft fur. In areas where Bobcats are now forced to share their natural ranges with growing numbers of people, they have also been hunted by farmers who fear for their livestock. Despite the fact that they are very adaptable animals, Bobcats are also been threatened by habitat loss with populations being pushed into smaller and more isolated regions of their once vast natural range.
Here in the Joshua Tree, California region (about 150 miles east of downtown Los Angeles) adjoined by the 800 thousand acre Joshua Tree National Park, “people” are parked on their private properties right up to the northern boundary line of the world renowned park visited by some 1.5 million visitors from around the globe each year. While visitor sightings of the nocturnal BobCat is highly unlikely, the visitors who stay overnight at a suitable campsite have a much better chance.
The encroachment of ”people” onto the BobCat’s habitat certainly has a dramatic affect on their survival – and the current “hunting” laws provide trappers to freely take the animal solely for its pelt to be sold to fur traders in countries far from our Western Hemisphere — for the current price of about $600 US dollars.
Trappers have frequently trespassed restricted and private properties to install their animal cages and other traps just “outside” the National Park’s boundary lines — to avoid criminal charges of trapping/taking/killing an animal “inside” the park boundaries. Well, the trapper mounting their wares on private and government controlled property ought to be charged with criminal trespass at the very least, and all their “trapping gear” confiscated and destroyed including the vehicle used in the pursuit of their trapping escapades.
According to our local San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department, it is up to the property owner (or occupant) to either fence the private property and/or post “No Trespassing/Hunting/Shooting” signs along the perimeter of the property, spotted every 150 yards, at the property owner’s expense. Without these signs, the trespasser gets off scott-free. That 150 YARDS seems a long distance… like 450 feet. Perhaps the “yards” is actually meant to be 150 feet, not yards. I’ll have to read the statute to determine the exact language and legal mandates the statute dictates. 
Given that trapping and killing the BobCat is legal within the season, the hunting law does not address an exception as to where… i.e. …minimum of 1/2 mile from the boundary line of the park (or other listed/protected property, including private properties adjoining or within a half-mile of the boundary line of the public park or other listed conservation site.
And just to be candid, post signs along the protected property announcing that BobCats are not permitted beyond the signs lest they take their own lives into their own paws.
Bobcat Relationship with Humans
Bobcats have historically dominated a wide variety of habitats across North America with the Bobcat known to people all over the continent, having roots in Native American folklore and in tales of the first European settlers in the Northern USA and Canada. However, the beauty, softness and density of the Bobcat’s fur lead to an increased value in their pelts and therefore the hunting of them from the early to mid 1900s that completely decimated populations particularly in the mid-western and eastern USA. Although they are now internationally protected, the hunting of Bobcats still continues in some areas, particularly those with the densest populations and the arid regions of desert lands. Bobcats are also seen as pests by farmers that hunt Bobcats to protect their livestock, particularly in Mexico where it has led to the Mexican Bobcat being listed as an Endangered species.
Bobcat Conservation Status and Life Today
Today, the Bobcat is listed by the IUCN as an animal that is of Least Concern from becoming extinct in it’s native environment in the near future. Since the international protection of the Bobcat in the 1970′s put an end to the extensive trading of their fur, populations have been able to recover and are stable throughout much of their natural range. However, in areas where there is increasing levels of human activity, numbers are still declining due to both hunting, trapping and habitat loss. There are estimated to be between 800,000 and 1,200,000 Bobcat individuals left in the wild of North America.
MY PERSONAL OPINION
The JoshuaTreeStar.com and its founder appeals to establish legislation forming a “buffer zone”, or a “No trap, no kill” zone as to state, county and national parks and recreation establishments and upon any private property without the expressed written permission of the property owner; making it a felony-trespass to violate the restrictions and a crime of “cruelty to animals”. Further, my opinion of the size of the “buffer zone” should be at least two (2) statute miles from the boundary line of the protected property (including adjoining private property sited within the “buffer zone”) such as a federal, state or county designated public park or other protected property. If “no limits” are set on how many BobCats can be taken by the hunter/trapper, the plight of the critters near or in parks and similar habitats is compromised. There must be a “limit” set down to the order of “5″ or thereabouts. You see, 500 trappers multiplied by “5″ equals 2,500 animals slaughtered for the price of their fur alone. At that rate, it would not be long before the North American BobCat population would follow the Mexican Bobcat who is now on the Endangered Species List. Extinction is sure to follow.
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About Bill Ford, Founder

Born in the late 30s - you do the math. Lots of life experiences in numerous endevors but not an expert in any that I know of. I'm a fan of challenging projects. When I'm told it can't be done I go ahead and do it anyway. This web site is one of 'em. How long will this web site last? Hard to say. Depends on how long I live. Film at Eleven. --bf
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7 Responses to BOBCAT ATROCITY Discovered by local JT resident

  1. Tom says:

    Hi Bill,
    Yes, and good. But, one mile is not nearly enough for animals that have 80 square mile territories. The buffer zone must be at least 10 miles from the parks. Also, a limit must be established if “animal management” is really an issue. There is a profit angle that has caused a boom in this activity. China and other foreign interests are fostering the zeal. This must stop. Profit is a bad element. The state gets about $70.00 for the trapping license and then $3.00 per stamp on each pelt. The cost should be much higher. It is ridiculous for our state to be “broke” and not see that there is a financial opportunity that should be capitalized on. Why is it so inexpensive to engage in the trapping when the cheapest hurdle is the license and tags? Especially if the pelts are bringing $800.00 and up? All very disappointing. The truth is that unrestrained activity of this sort perpetuates the same illness that is associated with the down side of how our violent criminals see no regard in harming many things in society, including other people. For a complete picture of the thoughts on this, though a bit biased would be on the PETA website. Many interesting studies have been done to understand the psychology of hunting and trapping when “fun” is the reason. In closing, I am adamately opposed this activity all together as I have a personal history that give me insight into the mindset that goes along with the odd masturbation that is adrenaline driven and primordially connected. For me, this is 2013 and the animals are now in extreme jeopardy. It is being said that we are in the middle of the largest mass extinction since the dinosaurs passed. I think this is true. Soon, we will be on the list and mankind will have let the Universe down in becoming the beings we are hoped to be. Seeds of understanding moving forward with dignity and honor.

    That’s my take on it. Thanks for keeping the news moving and hope to see you some time soon.

    Best, Tom

    • Thanks for the comment Tom…. well taken

      And thanks for the link too.

      However, as to the “one-mile” buffer. Perhaps my “one” might be extended to “two-mile”. That puts more than 10,000 feet between the park boundary line, encompasses private properties within that zone where the lands beyond the buffer zone would be much less desireable as a “trapping zone”. Granted, Tom, the BobCats may indeed have an 80 square mile territory, that 80 miles is not in a straight line, where a “ten” mile buffer would be appropriate.

      As it is with other “law enforcement” issues, this is certainly an issue that the general public MUST align themselves to. Budgets and all that nonsense. Here, the public voluntarily planted themselves within the sphere of influence of the wild critters, the dark skies, the desert environment or even the “cheap housing”; so be it. Therefore, the concerned citizens affected by the “trapping” are challenged to bring forth their support in “policing” their own neighborhoods, photograph the action, report to law enforcement (well documented, of course) to the end they can do something of the violation. Of course, “we-the-people” must first cause to be established, legislation that will ensure the public of lawful support in ending, or at least curtailing, the carnage that exists along but “outside” the boundary lines where the law does not apply.

      One other comment Tom… the price of the “Hunting/Trapping” license. I hate to suggest it but raising the price of the license (and tags) only serves to raise the price of the “pelt” and has little or no real affect on the “hunter or trapper”. Like any other commercial activity, they simply pass the added cost onto the ultimate buyer of the product. My thoughts on how to thwart their efforts is to ensure swift and complete punishment including heavy fines starting at $5,000, minimum 1-year (with one-day suspended) jail time, forefiture of the vehicle used, hunting & trapping gear, and a public posting of the criminal’s mug shot. Additionally, a 5-year hunting/fishing/trapping (et al) license suspension.

      I could carry on with the “penalty phase” but I’m not in the business of writing statutory laws for legislative consideration.

      BF

  2. Caylee Parker says:

    Please stop killing animals for sports.They deserve to be free and live.Please stop being cruel to these animals.

  3. Nan Stone says:

    With so many of our mammals in decline, really, most species, we cannot allow hunting for sport. We are tragically hurting the whole world, when we allow this to go on in America, as so many look to us as a model country. Stop the killing. I am ashamed of this behavior, in the most profound way.

  4. kim st.clair says:

    Bobcats need to run and be free the abuse has to stop now

  5. cooki bilsborough says:

    Bill, I think we met at Home Depot or at Lisa’s Goin’ Postal. Your name cropped up when I was telling her I may want to start my own little newsletter, but don’t know legalities of process and she told me about your website. If you feelninlined and get a chance, am over here on XXXXXX street [Yucca Valley] and phone number is XXXXXXXX (my Connecticut cell). I loved your bobcat article and feel the poachers are disgusting as they have no respect for the bobcats or other’s property. Like your idea of high fine and confiscating for good their equipment.

    • Greetings Cooki Bilsborough

      Thanks for your kind compliments on the article.

      I must admit I’m at a loss as to “who Cooki” is !! Of course, memory is one of the components that is affected by chemotherapy for my lung cancer.

      You contemplate starting a newsletter. Good for you! Of course, there ARE legal issues in distributing “written” commentary or information — that is: “…anyone, for any reason what-so-ever, can sue anyone in a court of law whether the accused is guilty or not. The down-side of this condition is that the accused (defendant) must come up with the CASH MONEY to pay the court filing fees and any monies owed to the lawyers who will charge anywhere from $400 to $600 an hour while in the courtroom. Numerous lawyers love taking one’s money as a “good-faith deposit” in amounts of $2,000 to around $10,000 is quite common just to talk with the lawyer about the case. Such as a false dog-bite or “slip ‘n fall” case just to capture some income from the settling insurance company. So, what is said, or even if one reads between the words in your newsletter, “words” can be used against you. Choose carefully.

      Cooki, I can see that your newsletter idea, perhaps in the design field (?), would become unto itself an INFORMATIONAL/TUTORIAL platform. Since this would incorporate local, state, federal and international building codes, customs, cultural differences, language barriers, even colors of text you choose to emphasise in your dialogue could “offend” someone.

      If you wish to pursue the newsletter issue and wish some casual conversation over personal experiences I’d be happy to assist. You can always reach me at billford@isp.com.

      You may also be interested in a companion article to the BOBCAT issue, which expounds on a “legal issue” concerning “No Trespass” signage posted on private property:
      http://wp.joshuatreestar.com/?p=5841
      I hope this helps some… you can always email me and we can go from there for a meet ‘n greet or, chit-chat via email or phone. BTW: I took the liberty of obscuring your address and phone number from public view. Also, my “part-time” neighbor is a designer by profession and who hails from the Upper Eastern Seaboard region. I can put you in touch if you like.

      Best Regards
      Bill Ford, founder
      JoshuaTreeStar.com

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