From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 33 - 4/13/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Raising and Breeding Bobcats

In the 1970's and early 1980's bobcat pelts prices got very high from $400 to $450 per pelt and Canadian Lynx prices got up to $1500 each for the select ones on the Canadian Auction. We could trap Lynx in the Wyoming Range until the last of December 1972, then they started protecting them, and no one was allowed to trap them and we couldn't pen raise them in Wyoming. They are still legal in some of our surrounding states. There was a good population in 1972 and Gary and I were able to trap 13 of them, using just the weekends, and none of these were kittens. The Lynx, to keep from overpopulating the area, will not produce any litter after they get to be X amount, and I think this was the situation at that time.

After talking with Rex Corsi, from Wyoming Game & Fish Dept., we could get a permit to raise Bobcats, and also a captive permit to take breeders out of the wild, so we decided to try them. Bobcats were real scarce in our area at the time, and trying to live trap breeding stock was almost futile. Our permits then covered Bobcat, Pine Marten, Mink, Fox and Badger. Rex also gave us an address and phone number of a Bobcat breeder up in the Sheridan country, one of the few in the state at that time.

Lucy was getting a little spooked of the fur animal ventures by this time and we also had a business, Pinedale Hide & Fur, in addition to Bucky's Repair. She decided not to let me take any money out of the repair business, and go talk to Hugh Caton, our banker at the time, figuring that would be the last of the latest scheme. We were dealing in quite a few products in Bucky's Repair at that time and stock came in by the bunches-mainly snowmachines. It was very common to make a lot of trips to the bank, either to borrow money or pay it back and some pretty good figures were usually involved. The breeder from Sheridan had agreed to sell us five of his poorest colors for $600 each ($3000) so this would be our start. When applying for the loan, from Hugh Caton, I mentioned cats, but didn't bear down on the Bob part. When they brought out the papers for me to sign, Hugh and I visited a little bit and in the conversation he mentioned " I didn't know you were in the Arctic Cat business also, I thought you were all Polaris." He pinned me down on the cat business and I had to admit it was for Bobcats. His mouth fell open a little bit, and getting his composure back he said " Boy this will be a first" but knowing the repair business was good for it he let me have the loan, and said "we'll see how this turns out."

The breeder from Sheridan had agreed to haul them to Shoshoni and we were to meet him there and haul them on home. We met him around noon and he had them in a not too sturdy crate he had built out of some flimsy scrap boards and real thin chicken wire. He had drugged them to be able to get them into the crate and had covered it with a tarp. He had loaded them early in the morning and by this time the drug had about worn off. We pulled the crate into the back of our pickup, then he pulled the tarp off the crate so we could get a look at our purchase. They were fully awake by now and all five being in one crate all hell broke loose. He was trying to point them out to me as to who was whom, but all I could see was spinning, growling Bobcats and so much fur flying around I couldn't tell anything. The light chicken wire was bulging on the crate so much we figured we better get the tarp back on them to quiet them down again. He gave me their breeding record cards but it didn't matter because I couldn't tell who was who. We figured we could tell which one was the male when we got them home and let it go at that.

When we got them home at dark we were able to back the pickup up to our string of breeding cages and cut a small hole in the chicken wire and they vacated the crate in a flash and blur. All five of them ran into the first nest box and filled it up pretty good. It was a couple of days before we ever got them separated to see what we had. Our breeding cages were connected with runways and trap doors, and they could be coaxed around with feed. In Wyoming all penned animal have to be tattooed in the ear, and after destructing a couple of expensive dip nets, they had to be put to sleep again for this operation. Our vet, Glenn Millard knew just what to do, and could squirt a small dose in the cats mouth, and after waiting a few minutes, they would be woozy enough to give it a shot in the hip to put them to sleep. Someone ask me how in the world you get a cat to open his mouth to squirt the first drug in? This was no problem at all because all you have to do is get close to one and his mouth is wide open and ready, and they really mean business. During a show and tell a lady asked me why we didn't pet them more to gentle them down. The reason we didn't pet them at all was because you couldn't get loose.

We started building up a small herd and solved our feed problems by getting meat scraps from the locker plant. The meat scraps were all ground up and put in 10 to 15 pounds and put in freezers. This was then mixed with Mink pellets, using the proper pellet for the appropriate time of the year.

To Be Continued . . .

Bucky's Stories are sponsored by Walker's Agri-Service in Pinedale

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