Monday, June 27, 2011

Mutton Mondays - A letter from the Forest Service and BLM

This is a letter released to the public. Funny that our sheep and dogs are one of the few 'bands' they are talking about. This letter gives great tips for hikers and backpackers that are headed up into the mountains this summer. I also thought it would give you a little more insight on what life for the dogs and sheep is like in the high country. 

For immediate release:  June 17, 2011
Visitors to public lands should be aware of livestock protection dogs in the high country.

As the snow melts in the high country, hikers, backpackers and other visitors will soon be joining bands of domestic sheep in heading for public lands.  Domestic sheep are grazed on public lands under permit from late June to early October.  A band of sheep is often accompanied by a pair of livestock protection dogs, which are an effective tool used by ranchers to protect sheep from predators. These large white guard dogs are often Great Pyrenees or Akbash breeds.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will be posting signs along trails and trailheads notifying users of the dates that domestic sheep bands will be grazing in certain areas. Follow these safety tips when encountering guard dogs in the backcountry:

When approaching a band of sheep, allow time for the guard dogs to see you and determine you are not a threat. Remain calm.  If you do not appear to be a threat, the dogs will often just watch you pass by.

If you have a dog with you, it may appear to guard dogs as a threat if it gets too close to the band or tries to chase sheep. Keep your dog close to you and under control.  Leash your dog for as long as you can see sheep band.

Try not to “split” the band by walking through it; instead travel around the sheep via the least disruptive route. Keep as much space as practical between you and the sheep band, especially if you have a dog with you.  As you pass, keep line of sight between you, your pets and the guard dogs.

Bicycle riders should dismount from their bikes and walk past the band with the bike between you and the livestock protection dog. Do not remount until you are well past the sheep.

Do not:
 *   Chase or harass sheep or livestock protection dogs.
 *   Try to outrun livestock protection dogs.  If a guard dog approaches you, tell   it to “go back to the sheep,” or tell it, “No!” in a firm voice.  Do not attempt to hit or throw things at it.
 *   Attempt to befriend or feed livestock protection dogs.  They are not pets.  They are lean athletic working dogs, which are cared for by their owners.
 *   Allow your pets to run towards or harass sheep.  They may be perceived as predators by the livestock protection dog and attacked.
 *   Mistake a livestock protection dog as lost and take it with you.


texwisgirl said...

seems like good advice for them to post. too often folks think all dogs are pets and forget the job they are meant to do.

Renegades said...

Interesting post.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Wow, good to know... I don't know if we'll be approaching many guard dogs in the next few years, but I feel ready!

You've sure had a life change!

All joys to you,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

gin said...

"do not mistake a protection dog as lost and take it home with you"
That was my favorite part.

Anna said...

Came via Crystal Cattle, congrats on the bag! Excited to check out more of your blog, love this post!