Thursday, July 14, 2016

Stemming grizzly bloodshed

Range rider Phil McGinnis was trotting around on horseback in an open sagebrush-steppe pasture pushing a spread-out group of cow, calf and yearling cattle into something more resembling a clump. The maneuver, to the untrained eye, didn’t look like much. The livestock were scattered over a couple hillsides, and then, after McGinnis rode by with his cattle dog, scattered a little less. A lot of hope, however, hangs on the herding technique, which is being tested out as a trial at the Mosquito Lake pasture in the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s massive Upper Green River rangeland allotment. The desire of McGinnis, cattleman Albert Sommers and a number of conservationists is that the more bunched-up bovids will be somewhat less prone to ending up as dinner for a grizzly bear. “After last year, I would have tried anything,” said Sommers, who presides over the Upper Green River Cattle Association and is also Sublette County’s representative in the Wyoming House. The death toll the third-generation rancher amassed last year in the four-month grazing season: 80 cattle killed by bears and another 10 lost to wolves. “That’s confirmed,” Sommers said. “We were short 290 head of calves.” The stockman, whose ball cap touts the “grizzly-tested, wolf-approved” taste of his cattle, let out an unexpected laugh. “That’s a lot,” Sommers said, regaining himself. “It was 14 percent of all our calves.” Going by the numbers, the scope of depredation that now befalls the Upper Green cattle herds annually is unparalleled in the Lower 48....more

No comments: