Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rancher copes with growing wolf conflict

Spring Gulch rancher Terry Schramm opened up the headgates Monday enough to wet the soil in an agricultural ditch so he could see what lurked in the night to feed on his most recently depredated cow. The tactic had the desired effect — imprinted into the mud Tuesday morning were clear-cut wolf tracks. Lots of them. “Look at the size of that f-----g dog track,” Schramm said later that day, gazing down at the ditch. The impressively wide pad prints of one large lobo stood out in particular amid the dozens of tracks around it. “There were 11 wolves on this carcass on Sunday,” he said. “That’s not all of them, because they were all gray and I know there’s at least two blacks and a white one that we’ve got on trail cam and video.” After a two-week lull in the canine-bovine clash in Spring Gulch, the wolves, likely from the Pinnacle Peak Pack, came back. The latest round of conflict between Walton Ranch cattle and the well-known wolf pack, which dens on the National Elk Refuge, started up the weekend of Sept. 10-11 when a calf was found dead, according to federal wildlife officials. 
Then, late last week, Schramm was awoken to a herd that smashed through a buck-and-rail fence and a maimed cow 186. It was the full-grown animal whose rank, mostly consumed carcass he stood over Tuesday near the wolf tracks. Fumbling with his iPhone, he pulled up a video of when he found the still-live cow Thursday morning. Innards protruding from its torn-up back end, the cow was still on its feet. A bullet shortly thereafter ended its misery. “It’s just been heartache for me,” Schramm said. “The politics of this just suck. I call up and say, ‘Give me a kill permit so I can protect my livestock.’ They say, ‘We can’t do that, you’re not allowed to shoot them.’” At least three cows and six calves from the Walton Ranch and other nearby livestock producers have been confirmed wolf-killed since spring. Many more, Schramm claims, have been bitten and sustained some degree of injury...more

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