Monday, December 18, 2006

Washington man traps bobcat who was killing his ducks


PORT ANGELES -- The last duck is safe, for now, if perhaps a bit nervous.

The bobcat blamed for eating several of its companions is in a pen, waiting until the man who trapped it this weekend can contact the proper authorities.

"I don't want him hurt, said Elvis Guy Iredale, who lives on South Mount Angeles Road south of Port Angeles.

"I just don't want him in the neighborhood."

Iredale once had a flock of nine ducks.

Some of them fed coyotes and even perhaps a dog or two, but several -- at least four -- were killed by a bobcat that has been preying around his home for the last eight months, Iredale said.

Once Iredale was about down to his last duck, he took action.

He rigged an ingenious contraption to trap the stealthy thief.

On Friday, Iredale used a dead duck to bait a 30-by-30-foot dog pen that is attached to his garage and house.

He placed a weight on a stool in such a way that when the cat tugged on the duck carcass, the weight fell off and pulled taunt a rope which slammed the gate of the pen behind the cat.

But Iredale could see how a frightened animal might skitter up and over one side of the pen that abutted one of his structures, so he spread a net in that corner.

Then he waited.

Sure enough, some time after midnight, there was a clatter as the bobcat took the bait, lunged into the net, and ended up hanging from the pen, unhurt and certainly unhappy.

Iredale turned a large pet carrier on end, lowered the disgruntled feline netball into it and covered the open end with a barbecue grill latched tightly.

The bobcat was no longer a danger to his ducks.

But what was he going to do with it?

He loaded the pet carrier into his truck and made some calls.

On Saturday, he was awaiting a call back from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Iredale thinks one of the bobcat's eyes looks cloudy. He fears that the cat was hunting easy pickings because he can't see well.

Iredale doesn't want to release a handicapped cat into the wild.

He'd like to find it a home, and has contacted the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim.

There, he was advised to see what the state authorities want to do first.

In the meantime, the last surviving duck, a Rouen, is marked for a new home.

It will join a flock owned by a friend of Iredale's.

"I'm giving up on ducks for the time being," he said.

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