Despite CPW claims that “depredation has ceased”, two more cattle killed by wolves

A yearling and a heifer were killed in Grand County over the weekend, with evidence both died from wolf attacks, despite claims by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife official that the agency’s non-lethal efforts to stop the killing have “ceased depredation.”

The heifer, a young female that has not yet calved, was on the same ranch that lost four yearlings about 10 days ago, according to Steamboat Radio. Rancher Conway Farrell said Sunday they’ve been working with the local Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff.”The game wardens are out here. They’re working their butts off trying to do everything they can to do their job,” he said. “We went to the higher-ups. We tried telling the guys the problems that we’re seeing on the everyday level right here. With the game wardens doing their job, they’re not focusing on their actual wildlife management now,” Farrell added.

The situation means game wardens aren’t out counting sage grouses, catching the shed hunters that are trespassing or running elk and deer, he said. “They didn’t sign up for this to come skin beef cattle and look around and try to find wolf tracks in cattle, and then watch cattle at night,” the rancher said. “What’s happened is that they took the local game wardens away from their normal duty to have to go start doing this and patrolling cattle.” That’s not right, Farrell said. “We’ve tried working with the higher-ups, meeting with these guys and telling them all this, and telling them how big a problem we’re having, and they’re so worried about the activists’ side coming at them if they remove one of these wolves. And it needs to be done,” he said.

In a letter to Middle Park Stockgrowers on April 23, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director ​Jeff Davis said wildlife officers have been “working with the landowner to do night patrols, as well as to deploy some conflict minimization tools in this area.”

“Since those tools have been deployed, depredation has ceased, at least for the time being,” Davis said.

That lasted five days — Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke told Colorado Politics on Sunday that a yearling, cattle under a year old, also was killed by a wolf over the weekend.

The deaths of livestock in Grand and Jackson counties, which Wild Earth Guardians has called “harvesting,” brings to eight the number of young cattle, either calves, heifers or yearlings, killed in April by wolves. That’s on top of at least 16 other kills of cattle, sheep and working cattle dogs in Jackson County by wolves that migrated into Colorado from Wyoming.

Ranchers believe there are more attacks than what had been reported. The state released 10 wolves into Grand County last December. The killings began just as calving season was getting underway for many ranchers on the Western Slope.

Davis told the stockgrowers group that CPW will not take any lethal action against the wolves, claiming two are “denning” — meaning in preparation for birth. Once those pups are born, they would not be collared and their locations would not be tracked once they learn to hunt.

The wolves, which came from Oregon, have a recent history of attacking livestock. Colorado’s wolf plan said it would not take wolves with a history of “chronic depredation” of livestock, but Davis pointed out that the state wolf management plan did not include a definition of chronic depredation, which he said was deliberate.

The agency has since said its commission, which has recently added members tied to animal rights groups, would consider a definition of chronic depredation in its summer meetings. In the meantime, the agency advised ranchers to use non-lethal methods to scare off wolves.

Ranchers said wolves can adapt to these methods and they no longer work.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s responses have caused significant damage to its relationship with private landowners, including ranchers, as the agency relies on private landowners for wildlife conservation, and access to private lands for recreation, according to livestock growers and others.

That led led ranchers in four counties, as well as wool growers and the Grand County sheriff, to pen letters pleading for help. In Yuma County, stockgrowers have already cut off access to CPW staff.

In his letter, Davis acknowledged the damage the wolf kills have done to critical relationships between the agency and ranchers. “It’s not lost on me that these very tense times are putting a great deal of strain on our relationships,” he said.

But, he added, “we hope that no matter what, we can continue to work together to successfully avoid and minimize impacts on the agricultural industry while restoring wolves to Colorado.”

One of the 10 wolves released in December was found dead in Larimer County last week. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service indicated the death is due to natural causes but an investigation is underway.

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Article courtesy of Marianne Goodland,


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