The cows have been up on US Forest grazing allotments for more than a month now. The Upper Green River Cattlemens Association pays riders to stay on the mountain with the cows and move them around to prevent overgrazing, watch for problems, doctor the sick, and keep an eye out for bear and wolf problems. While these riders do a good job moving the cattle around, typically this time of year we help them move some of the livestock into a different allotment on the mountain. Today’s ride was to Trail Creek Park.
We spread out across the allotment that the cows are in (the allotment is quite large) and move through the trees, willows and valleys locating cattle and pushing them with us to a common trail where everyone shows up. It was a little difficult to find the cows early on because a thick fog was settled in. At one point I was supposed to meet up with fellow rancher Albert Sommers, but the fog was so thick I couldn’t see very far. He called out my name and we discovered that we were only about 100 yards apart. Eventually the fog lifted and despite everything we did make a fairly good gather. The cows went into Trail Creek very smooth. It was a nice cool morning for driving cattle.
Often we will find kills made by wolves or bears when we make this ride, but none were discovered this trip. Last year I found a calf that had been killed by a grizzly bear and then chewed on by the wolves. The only thing available to look at was the hide and bones, there was no meat left. They found that it was killed by a grizzly bear judging from the bite marks on the skin. On our way home we heard over the radio from one of the riders in another area that they had discovered a yearling (one-year-old) that had been killed by a grizzly bear and buried. Also they had spent time that morning chasing wolves away from a cow/calf pair (mamma and baby cow) the wolves were trying to attack. We are not allowed to kill the wolves or grizzly bears to protect our livestock.
The wolves and grizzly bears have become a major problem in this area and not just for ranchers, for campers and other people too. It is no longer safe for you or your kids to roam up and down the little streams to fish by yourselves. The grizzly bear and wolf populations are out of control and many feel that a regulated hunting season would be a good compromise for all sides. After all, deer and elk populations were thriving while being hunted, at least until that wolves started to impact their numbers.
I took this photo (above) of a clear cut on our ride today (where the trees were all cut in a certain spot during the logging days in this area). It shows the damage being caused by the pine beetle plague we are seeing all up and down the Rocky Mountain Range. These clear cuts are the only solid green areas you will see in the forests today. The trees are young enough that they can fight off the pine beetles with their ample supply of tree sap. Unfortunately, many years ago most logging was shut down in this area due to litigation by extremist environmentalists. It seems that logging wasn’t so bad after all when you look at this picture.
Despite all the issues we ranchers deal with when grazing on public allotments, you sure can’t beat the view from our “office” window.
From RealRancher Kent Price – Daniel, WY