Monday, May 23, 2011

Mutton Mondays - Predators and Guardians

Sheep are pretty defenseless. Sad to say, but it's true.

Their only means of defense is staying together in a large herd and even then that's pretty pathetic. In a situation like that you are just hoping the predator goes for the sheep next to you. They probably don't make eye contact, try to suck it in to look unappetizing. You get the picture...

Coyotes, bear and mountain lion are our biggest problem. Many nights you hear the coyotes howling out in the field. A few seconds later you can hear the dogs barking and then their barks fade off into the distance. That is when I say a little prayer and ask God to watch over our hard working dogs.
Bear are a problem for us when we are up in the summer range. It would be nice if bear only stuck to nuts and berries, but they do not.

They eat our lamb and often several of them in one night. In the video that J made below at 3:33 our herder is stitching up a ewe that was attacked by a bear the night prior. I believe we lost one or two sheep that night. Doesn't sound like much, but that night we were lucky.

The dogs do the best they can with the bear and mountain lions but there are only so many fights our dogs will win.

Recently our state representative tried to pass a bill that would repeal the limits that a 1992 initiative placed and give the Wildlife Commission and Colorado Division of Wildlife the authority to change black bear hunting restrictions based on wildlife biology and game management practices, not legislative mandates. Unfortunately, this bill died. As a sheep rancher's wife we are hoping this bill has better luck the next time around.

I can't take any of the credit for keeping our sheep safe from predators. 
The credit belongs to our hard working herders and our fearless guard dogs; Tank, Scout, Joe, Wito, Embre and Gringo.

Just this past week we've lost four lambs to coyotes. Unfortunately, there is no real solution to our predator problems, the guard dogs are our best hope.


Heather said...

That's a tough job, but some dog has to do it.
I do hope they remain safe!!

Farmchick said...

I do hope your dogs remain well as the sheep/lambs!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Good dogs! I had a friend in college and his senior thesis was studying how to try to eliminate coyote problems. That was in Texas. We have some coyotes here but they're not as rampant. I saw one once when I was running, though, and it was so huge I'm still not convinced it wasn't a wolf!

Nancy said...

I think my husband told me that Colorado does not allow trapping. If that is the case, it is unfortunate for your sheep. I would imagine with easy prey available, predators numbers can get out of hand.

A Rancher's Wife said...

@Lisa - that would have scared the you-know-what out of me!

@Nancy - no trapping here. We've lost quite a few lambs in the past three weeks. The game warden came by yesterday to shoot some, but his dog met a porcupine so they had to leave. :(

crystal.cattle said...

An important issue. I wish you lots of luck in changing some of these laws. In the meantime I hope your dogs keep doing a great job!