As the secretary to the local Cattlemens Association, the last few days before the semi-annual meeting is a flurry of activity and last minute organization for me. (I work best under pressure, apparently.....) I really enjoy these meetings, even though they are very busy for me. We have such a great group of individuals out here, and we certainly don't take time to get together as much as we should. In fact, this happens twice a year, spring and fall.
The meeting went well anyhow; new information was shared, old information was renewed and generally the ranchers were happy. There was certainly some discussion regarding the recent past logging and the upcoming logging activity for the area. No one here is even slightly apposed to logging (it's all dead anyhow, Pine Beetles had their way years ago), but the management is still of utmost importance There is no question in anyone's mind of the problems and potential problems. One of the biggest and most immediate concerns is access. Access creates all sorts of well proven issues, including cattle drift (they love to wander down dusty roads, where ever they may lead), hunting and poaching potential (if you can get there in a minivan, why not?!) and most certainly has a huge impact visually. Who wants to pay good money for a 'wilderness trail ride' and ride through a fresh clearcut with big machines working all around? No thanks. The logging companies we are working with seem open to discussion and we will be sure to keep informed and very involved as they head for our backyard.
Our concerns regarding predator problems is not a new one either and the growing wolf population is still a hot topic. Even aside from the damage they do to the cattle herds, the lack of moose and caribou in this area, compared to not so many years ago, is an appalling fact that cannot be ignored. I remember as a kid that we would have 50 or 60 moose in our stackyards in the morning, until we figured out how to build them 'moose proof'. Even when we bought Three Circle, we had 16-22 all winter (until we got our proper stack yard built.) Now we put out hay bales FOR the moose, to help keep them off the roads, and safer from the wolves for the winter. Usually it is the mom's with babies that take up residence, which is perfect. There are many factors affecting the populations of course, such as the logging creating too much access, cow moose being taken (rather than bulls) and the natural habitat being destroyed or significantly altered. It is easy to point fingers all over the place, but one must also remember a simple fact. Wolves eat a lot. And when you have the numbers we have now, it is a problem, whomever or whatever you want to blame for it.
But I will show you a couple of photos of a bull that came in by himself this fall. He belongs to the people we bought Five Mile off of. We knew there was a good possibility of there still being three bulls on the range somewhere. This one was seen a few times earlier this fall with a buddy (another big bull) and it would be unusual for them to split apart after hanging out so long together. I have a bad feeling that his buddy is in wolf turd form these days. Cause this guy is certainly lucky to still have a heart beat.
Pretty well healed now. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
This is one of our calves we doctored. I've cut this pocket of infection out that you can see, but she was deeply scarred up and down both hind legs and on her head as well. Momma cow must have come to the rescue.
Alright, not to leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, I'll post some of Kris's awesome photos from the summer!
Take care all...
Photo credits for the last three to Kris A.