THE CRAWLING CULPRITS
Remember when your mom used to store her good wool clothing in those old cedar chests with mothballs sprinkled liberally across the bottom? This was to keep out the common clothes moth (along with case-bearing moth) from using her sweaters as a buffet. While the cedar lined chests and mothballs may be history, the moths are not. And they have developed a taste for something new – your mounts. And it’s not just the moths, there are also a host of beetles that have a voracious appetite for the keratin protein that encircles the base of the hair on your heads. Now, let me clarify an important fact; the flying moths and the hard shell beetles are not your problem.
All the damage, to either your sweaters or your stone sheep, are done by the larvae stage of these insects. The beetles and moths lay their eggs on your mounts and they grow by feeding through the hair until they emerge as an adult which utlimately lay their eggs too, thus starting the cycle all over again. Only this time the damage is increased exponentially. If you miss the warning signs and allow several generations of these bugs to propogate, it’s conceivable your entire collection could be destroyed in a single year. (See the bug identification guide below for more details on these pests).
WHY THE NEW THREAT? THANK THE EPA
If you’ve been hunting a long time like I have you are probably wondering why people with trophy collections for years never had this problem. There is an explanation: Prior to 1993 arsenic was a key ingredient in the tanning process. Commercial tanneries – the ones your taxidermist likely used – included arsenic to keep furs and capes from becoming a target of insects. When the Environmental Protection Agency placed Arsenic on the list of the top 200 known carcinogens, tanneries were forced to remove it from the process. From what I understand, tanneries were allowed to deplete their stockpiles so the exact date that arsenic treatments ceased may vary. But it’s safe to say that now US based mounts are no longer protected against bugs.
EARLY DETECTION IS THE KEY
Ok. So now that I’ve scared the crap out of you and you are all racing to your mounts for an inspection let me explain what you need to look for: