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Animals 'Fur sale'

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | April 29, 2010 9:00 PM

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Bobcats, otters, bear and other forfeited or confiscated game animals, hides or parts will be auctioned on Saturday.

COEUR d'ALENE - This is one list of auction items you won't find very often. Not even in North Idaho. Here is some of what's for bid on Saturday: 21 otters, 11 mountain lions and/or parts; five bobcats; five bear hides and/or skulls; four wolf hides; three whole wolves and 17 wolf skulls. And there's more. Much more.

COEUR d'ALENE - This is one list of auction items you won't find very often. Not even in North Idaho.

Here is some of what's for bid on Saturday: 21 otters, 11 mountain lions and/or parts; five bobcats; five bear hides and/or skulls; four wolf hides; three whole wolves and 17 wolf skulls.

And there's more. Much more.

"Here's 20 pounds of mule deer antlers that somebody will probably buy and make into a chandelier," said Phil Cooper, Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer as he looked over some of the items that will be sold at the annual Idaho Fish and Game Hide and Fur Auction scheduled at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds.

It's the first time in seven years the auction is being held in Coeur d'Alene. Items may be viewed beginning at 10 a.m., and the auction will begin at noon.

Cooper said the items come from throughout the state and are either confiscated or forfeited to the state. Many frozen animals, including bobcats, otters, bears, will be for sale. Buyers will thaw, skin and tan it.

There are different stories behind the wildlife that end up on the auction blocks.

Some of the wolves likely came from management actions and were shot for killing livestock or wandering too close to a playground.

A bobcat might wind up there after being shot near a chicken house. If the fur is good, it could go for $250 or more.

Dealers "like that white belly and the dark spots," Cooper said. "If the whole thing were white, it's going for $300 or more."

Dead, frozen otters end up at the auction, too. Their pelts are popular.

"If you have a beaver trap out it might catch an otter, but you can't keep it after the quota has been reached," Cooper said. "Fortunately, most of the people are honest enough to bring it in."

One otter up for bid is already skinned.

"Someone may have gotten it after the quota was reached and skinned it, because it's easier to handle that way, then brought it in," Cooper said.

Some of the frozen bear parts may go cheap.

"They're frozen, so you can't unroll them to see what they look like, so people won't be willing to pay very much for it," he said.

Other things like fishing poles, which will go for a few bucks, are taken sometimes if someone is caught fishing without a license.

Antlers will be sold by the pound. They're popular with dealers of wildlife parts, and might be turned into knife handles, a decoration of some kind or ground up as aphrodisiacs.

A bear skin rug up for bid on Saturday was likely a bear that was shot illegally and taken to a taxidermist.

"The truth came out and it was confiscated," Cooper said.

The bear skin rug may go for $100.

Along with the frozen critters will be furs, horns, heads, traps, fishing and camping gear.

Funds from the auction go to Fish and Game's general fund.

Cooper said there won't be any edible meat up for bid, and no firearms, either.

"We're not a firearms dealer and we don't want to get in the middle of selling firearms," he said.

Also, people can't come to the auction and buy their illegally obtained wildlife.

"If they shot an elk illegally and it is forfeited to the state, they can't come to the sale and just buy it. And they can't have somebody buy it on their behalf," he said.

A taxidermist-furbuyer license is required in advance to bid on bear parts, mountain lion parts or any furbearer for anyone in the business of buying and selling hides or animal mounts.

Resident licenses are $40 for one year, and nonresident licenses are $170. The licenses can be purchased at any Idaho Fish and Game office.

Buyers for personal use are not required to have a taxidermist-furbuyer license.

Several hundred people are expected for the auction, but Cooper said it's difficult to predict what items will command bids, and which ones will garner little attention.

"Who knows," Cooper said. "At an auction, anything can happen."

Information: 769-1414

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