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Skittles the wild-born bobcat again roams the wild

Back to the wild ... Marty Hansen released Skittles the Bobcat into a remote area of the Badlands National Park on Wednesday, April 5. “She’ll be alright once we get her out there,” said Hansen as he and Conservation Officer Todd Enders put the loaded cage in the back of Hansen’s pickup.

Friends were only half joking when they offered Marty Hansen boxes of tissue for when he had to release Skittles, the bobcat, back into the wild.

Marty and his wife, Debbie, had taken the six-or-so week old kitten off of the hands of Game, Fish and Parks officials. Someone, who mistakenly thought they were doing the right thing, had “rescued” it when they found it in the wild. Conservation officers then had two options; the kitten had to be destroyed, or someone had to raise her until she could be released into its natural habitat.

Now the bobcat is back where it should be.

Skittles lived in the Hansen’s house for awhile, even learning to use the litter box. Growing up, she often played with Ronnie-Annie, the house cat, and with some miniature dachshunds.

She progressed from being bottle fed, to chicken and turkey, to pheasants and other wild meat. Marty’s taxidermy business afforded sources for such meat.

Skittles was not a captive in the house nor in a cage, she had the freedom to go where she wished. She liked to hang around with the Hansens, and she quickly became comfortable with the neighborhood and the local stretch of the Bad River. She would be gone for lengthening periods of time. When she was somewhat near, Marty would call for her and reward her with a piece of wild meat when she would scamper over to him. “She came but she was never really all that hungry, so she must have been learning how to hunt and take care of herself,” said Debbie.

Marty received permission to keep Skittles in a large walk-in cage during bobcat season, from December 10 through February 15. He kept her in there for a little bit longer to make sure the traps would all be pulled after the season.

The wild animal was just that, a wild animal, and the Hansens knew that she would someday have to be released to fend for herself. Getting her into the cage for transportation was not necessarily difficult. Staying in there, though, was not to her liking. Marty and Debbie said goodbye to Skittles, and Skittles was saying hello to the life that she was meant for.