Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Predation by wolves is grief for ranchers

On May 23 Jackson Hole rancher Russ Lucas went to his pasture to investigate his bellowing cows. As he approached the herd he could see they were riled and agitated. They were gathered around the bloody carcass of one of their calves and were vocally upset. A pack of wolves had killed and eaten the week-old calf during the night. The ground around the carcass was all torn up where the cows had milled about, trying to get courage enough to drive the wolves away. All they could do was watch. The mama cow had been bitten on the hind end, undoubtedly during heroic efforts to save her calf. Wyoming Game and Fish investigated and determined there were at least three wolves, probably more. The kill site is 3.5 miles from downtown Jackson. Russ is missing other calves, evidenced by a mama cow that will wander around the pasture, bellowing for her calf that cannot be located. Two days after the kill I went with Russ and G&F officials to examine the wound on the mama. Russ had her in a holding pen with a new calf, a twin from another cow. To get the mama to adopt the calf, Russ uses the ingenious method of tying the dead calf’s hide to the new calf. He reports it works very well. The mama was still extremely agitated and we had to quickly back off. Russ said the herd remains traumatized from the experience. He no longer can take his dog to check the cows, as they attack it. Thousands of livestock are lost to predation each year in Wyoming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that in the past month there have been quite a number of young calves killed by wolves. It is not only a financial loss to livestock producers but also expensive to taxpayers who foot the bill for reimbursement and predator management. It is also a very sad event because owners consider livestock as family. These wolves are negatively impacting our traditional Wyoming way of life...more

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