Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ranchers struggle with grizzly numbers

It’s a rancher’s worst fear when you do your morning livestock check and find dead animals. That sickening feeling when you find the first dead ewe sits with you and weighs heavy on your mind. The first thought that crosses your mind is the coyotes must have hit again. Conflict rises as you think about the situation further, thinking coyotes usually don’t take down a ewe. You think maybe you have a lion problem. Concern grows as you find six more ewes and three lambs spread over the 1,200 acre pasture. Then you find the grizzly tracks and five pound scat and think, “We need a bigger trap.” The fact that this was all found within a half mile of the family home alarms you. Due to the fact that this was a livestock depredation, USDA Wildlife Services (WS) was contacted first. The WS specialist promptly arrived and after hours of thorough investigation, tracks, kill patterns and scat confirmed these were indeed grizzly bear kills. The grizzly bear is a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act, therefore limiting the rancher’s ability to protect their livestock and livelihood. Over the next three days, there were three more ewes and one lamb found dead and confirmed to be grizzly kills as well. According to the rancher and the WS Specialist, only one of the animals had been eaten. The WS Specialist, by protocol, notified Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) of the grizzly kill. While FWP did send a representative to the site to assess the situation, the FWP Head Grizzly Bear Specialist was not available to report to the kill site until five days later due to personal activities. Wildlife Services worked alongside the rancher to set traps to try and catch the bear (or bears) for five days with no luck....more

No comments: