Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ranchers not just crying wolf

Dick Thoman, a fourth-generation sheep rancher in Wyoming, woke up one morning and found 42 of his sheep bloody and dead on the open range. They had been slaughtered by wolves. The wolves didn't kill only what they needed to survive, and they didn't kill because they were hungry, as some like to claim. They killed for sport; they killed because that's what wolves do. Not one of the sheep had been eaten. "Just killed 'em and left 'em," says Thoman. Thoman's summer range borders Yellowstone. He loses 300 to 400 sheep a year to wolves, or about 10 percent of his herd. Why would they chase wild game in the park for hours on end when they can find them all bunched up and defenseless on adjacent ranches? It's like a grocery store on hooves. Did anybody not see that coming? "They've slaughtered us since they brought them back," Thoman says. "It's terrible." This doesn't even take into account Thoman's other losses. With wolves around, sheep are nervous. Imagine having a terrorist loose in the neighborhood each night, trying to get into your house to kill you. The sheep don't sleep or eat as well. "We probably lost 15 pounds per lamb over the summer, and at a dollar a pound and over 3,000 lambs, that adds up," says Thoman...more


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone ranch sheep right next to a national park where wolves live? Fourth generation rancher? Yellowstone has been the viable ecosystem that it is with wolves for thousands and thousands of years.. Now this guy wants to bring in sheep and change all that. Mr Thoman should sell his ranch to the park service and move somewhere where there are no wolves. Seems to me he is just asking for trouble.

Brett said...

Everyone dreams of buffer zones to handle this sort of thing, but they do not exist. Sooner or later, someone has to abut the National Park, the Monument, the Subdivision, or the City. It is always a problem, mainly because nobody today seems willing to respect the rights of others and let them handle their own affairs. NPS can manage the park however it sees fit, but the rancher cannot manage the ranch as he sees fit. When the rancher points out that the deck is stacked, people have the gall to demand that the man forfeit still more rights and leave. It reminds me of a different era long ago, when another group of people who thought all sensibilities and perhaps even God himself were on their side, did unspeakable things to a group of people they saw as an obstacle to "progress," which was once again defined by themselves.

It is curious that the wolves favor the sheep over all that other wildlife in the park, though. Why go to all that trouble, one might ask?