Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Discussion of the training, use, and management of guard dogs, guard llamas, guard donkeys, guard goldfish, etc.

Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby pastora » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:51 pm

This article below came from the Captial Press of April 9th. The tragic loss: the wolves made mincemeat of his Great Pyr LGD's in addition to about $40,000 in loss of sheep. Ouch.... Which brings me to my topic: effectiveness of some breeds against packs of wolves. Some of you already have wolf issues, some of us are just beginning to and others don't yet, but I contend within my lifetime, I'll see wolves in N. Nevada on a regular basis (including those who are already crossing with coyotes and yes that's going on out here too....). There have been sightings in Jarbidge. Under-dogging (ie, not enough dogs); folks who try to get by with the bare minimum and pay the ultimate price for it.... IMHO: when in wolf country, bigger is better and the more the merrier. Also, running varieties of LGD's, not just all one type, because they all have their specialties and strengths (and weaknesses)...crossbreds and purebreds included..... Some who can run like h*ll and catch/catch up with predators, and some who are big - VERY big - who can stay back with herd/flock to defend.... I am not trying to be pro/con about any particular breed, we all have our preferences, so do I and I run Pyrs, crosses, and more...but I am trying to invite discussion over this.... I run all kinds of dogs on my goats (soon to be some sheep as well). I am not in wolf country (yet) however if they drop into Elko County it's clear sailing ovewr open BLM to my place. Also, who besides me, is a proponent of using carlancas? Anyhow, just wanted to see some discussion on the topic...no fights, no "I'm right, you're wrong" just exchange of ideas....I think we are at the fork in the road of a new era of wolf problems for many of us....

Here is the article.

Hunt long overdue for some

Grower says wolves pose different threat to Idaho's livestock

By DAVE WILKINS
Capital Press

TERRETON, Idaho -- Last summer was a nightmare for Jeff Siddoway and a picnic for the predators that feasted on his sheep.

His Great Pyrenees guard dogs were hors d'oeuvres for the wolves, he said.

"That's the first thing that wolves do; they kill those guard dogs," Siddoway said in a recent interview. "When we found them, they were ripped to pieces."

With the guard dogs out of the way, the sheep were easy prey for not just wolves, but coyotes, black bears and other predators.

"We've had wolf problems a time or two before, but nothing like last summer," he said.

Siddoway lost 135 sheep to wolves last summer alone at an estimated cost of nearly $40,000, he said.

Wolves still account for a small percentage of overall livestock losses in Idaho. Coyotes and disease account for far more.

But that's no consolation to Siddoway and other ranchers. Depredation by wolves just means greater overall losses that they can't afford.

"Those of us in the farming and ranching business already operate on a really slim margin," he said.

Like most ranchers, Siddoway was dead-set against the federal government reintroducing gray wolves into the Northern Rockies in the first place.

"I think it was a horrendous mistake," he said.

Siddoway received some compensation payments from Defenders of Wildlife, but it wasn't enough to cover all of the wolf depredation, he said.

Wolves may account for fewer annual sheep losses than coyotes, but they tend to kill more at one time, Siddoway said.

Coyotes and bears rarely kill more than a few sheep during one incident, but there were times last summer when Siddoway lost nearly 20 sheep in a single night to wolves, he said.

"Wolves just keep going," he said. "I think it's because they travel in such big packs."

Federal wildlife officers killed four of the five wolves that got into Siddoway's buck pastures last summer and killed a bunch of his rams.

He's worried about the one that got away.

It could come back this summer and bring friends.

"I'm confident that that wolf will find more companions to run with it and it will be back in my buck pasture next year," he said.

"The anxiety is the worst part," he said. "You don't know if they're going to come back the next night and do the same thing."
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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby lovetree » Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:03 pm

The article never said how many LGDs the rancher was running, my guess was it was probably only a couple and they were either too young and inexperieced or maybe too old to be effective.
We have wolves here and we run our "triple cross" of Tatra, Maremma, Spanish Ranch Mastiff. They have been very effective, some are larger than others...but I dont see size so much as an issue as I see the ability of the dog to effectively manage the flock in a threatening situation...brains over brawn.
Also what I feel is important is the ability to allow the dogs to run freely instead of being confined to a paddock. Running freely does not mean running amok across the countryside, just running freely on the home turf.
Also,.. you need to run the appropriate number of dogs for your situation....we have 200 acres with rolling hills, creeks, half of the acreage in wild brush and trees,loads of places for predators to skulk about so we currently run 7 dogs, but we need to get up to 8.
Someone with wide open land without all of the natural camoflauge may be able to get by with half that amount...all depends on what the current threat is.
Mary Falk / LoveTree Farmstead
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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Bill Fosher » Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:08 am

As a footnote, why is it that when sheep are killed by predators or taken by the government they are always so highly valued, but when they are being sold in the open marketplace they are so damn cheap?

$40,000 for 135 sheep is just shy of $300 per head, and most folks I know would balk up at paying that much for a breeding ram.

Siddoway is probably valuing them correctly for his operation, but I'm pretty close to certain that he could not get that much for 135 sheep if he were trying to sell them.
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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Sylvia Murray » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:12 pm

I was thinking the same thing when I did the math. Maybe it's the aggravation factor of having to go out and buy, then transport, quarantine..... getting paid for his time too.
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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Tomar » Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:18 pm

As I recall he lost alot of his breeding rams; they hadn't been turned out with the ewes yet,so they should be higher priced animals.
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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Janet McNally » Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:36 pm

I'm not sure if it was Siddoway's, or someone else, but one of the producers with big losses last year had 20 stud rams killed by wolves. This could easily explain the $300/head figure. I would bet that the wolves pulled the same number that the coyotes did with our dogs last year. Draw them out one by one and ambush them. (in our case the dogs were ambushed by cars on the freeway...we grow mighty smart coyotes here).

I agree with numbers, wolves are like a rival street gang. One LGD isn't going to cut it, you need numbers to keep the pack at bay. Also there is some evidence that Canid's respect the territory of a mated pair better than same sex or neutered dogs. As to breeds, possibly some of the most effective breeds are more difficult to manage on smaller properties, so breed choice or blend might have to be more aimed at what works in the neighborhood rather than just the biggest toughest meanest LGDs. As to exactly how many? as many as there might be members in the wolf pack? We have had up to 23 wolves in a pack here, but two to ten is most common. I run 2 dogs per group of sheep until we run into wolves then I consolidate all the sheep into one group with all of the dogs.


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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby K Bar K Farm » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:29 am

Janet McNally wrote:I'm not sure if it was Siddoway's, or someone else, but one of the producers with big losses last year had 20 stud rams killed by wolves. This could easily explain the $300/head figure.


I think that was John Helle's ranch in SW (Dillon) Montana.

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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby lambchop » Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:03 am

I know Jeff very well, and his rams were worth every bit of $300. He runs several bands of sheep and has plenty of LGD's to do the job. This pack came in to a ram paddock that he did not think he needed a large number of LDGs. Wolves in the past had done some damage in his ewes out on the range, but never to this extent. These are longtime sheep people that know how to protect their sheep with sufficient dogs, however, sometimes it just doesn't work. We are not looking forward to the wolves moving into our part of Oregon, but, they are on their way. Our dogs do a great job on lions and coyotes, but even with 9 LGD's on 1500 acres and 100 ewes, I am not sure they are up to the challenge of a large pack of wolves. Time will tell. By the way, we have not had a known loss to predators in the last five years, and trust me, the coyotes and lions are all around us in large numbers.

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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Island Shepherd » Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Plan A LGD's
Plan B 100 grain nosler ballistic tips

Seriously what is the law for you living in wolf areas where they are a protected species if you find them in the act of killing livestock? Do you have to watch as they massacre your animals and then call a government official to come out and remove the offending wolves, or can you lick it on to them and then call, and say this is what was going on?

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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby lambchop » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:13 pm

Sorry, I left a "O" off, should be 1000 ewes. My understanding is it varies by state, depending on the status. Some states have delisted and you can kill a wolf in the act, others, including Oregon, they are still listed, and you can only call the Feds to come help.

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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Janet McNally » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:15 pm

Island Shepherd wrote:Plan A LGD's
Plan B 100 grain nosler ballistic tips

Seriously what is the law for you living in wolf areas where they are a protected species if you find them in the act of killing livestock? Do you have to watch as they massacre your animals and then call a government official to come out and remove the offending wolves, or can you lick it on to them and then call, and say this is what was going on?

Dave


Dave the letter of the law for those of us still under federal protection (and lately federal protection has been a revolving door, one could honestly plead they had no idea whether we were under state or fed control)... we have to watch the animal go down knowing there are very well funded wildlife groups just waiting to hang a farmer out to dry. otoh it has been pointed out to me no judge has (yet) thrown the book at a farmer defending his livestock here in MN. Here in Mn even once the fed protection is removed, those in the northern 1/3 of the state still will live with wolves that are totally protected. I live just 4 miles from that line that arbitrarily decides which part of Minnesota is agriculture and which part is 'wild'. For those of us on the Ag side, the law is only slightly more liberal than the original fed protection. We still have to wait until the wolf has done damage, but will be allowed more time for trapping and more tolerance if we shoot a wolf in the act of attacking livestock....but there had better be hard evidence the livestock were attacked. Each state has its own laws...the problem is the wildlife groups keep slapping the FWS with lawsuits so federal protection is an on again, off again proposition for the past 11 years (yes it has been that long!). Just for a time table..... wolves reached their recovered status in Minnesota sometime in the 70's, then the criteria was changed to include the upper Great Lakes which prolonged reaching the new recovered status into the early 90s. Nationwide, states developed management plans in the late 90's, and since then we have been waiting for 11 years for the litigation to end and for the intended management plans to go into effect. that is essentially 35 years of stalling via litigation from wildlife organizations. I guess there is no doubt who is in control.

I mentioned it before but a good read is "the Beast in the Garden" which recounts all the ways wildlife management errors lead up to man eating cougars in Boulder Colorado. I think the lessons learned there would be well spent on wolves as well, which is to say a bit of hunting helps keep wildlife wild.

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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Janet McNally » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:31 pm

It may be that those grazing wilderness areas and all other federal lands may always be subject to total federal protection of wolves no matter what the status is with the state laws.

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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby Janet McNally » Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:35 am

I am posting this photo of a wolf shot in Idaho for Paul, I will have him comment on it.

Image
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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby lambchop » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:40 am

I want to thank Janet for posting the picture for me, I will have to learn how to do it for myself. This wolf was shot during the Idaho hunt. I was amazed at its size. Janet says it is about what she has in Mn, so it would appear to me that the photo posted earlier would probably be a cross. We are so blessed to have a gov't. that will spend MILLIONS to re-establish a predator to destroy our deer and elk herds and our domestic livestock. I can't wait to have them move into my area!

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Re: Wolves vs LGDs: future of LGD breeds, what is best and why?

Postby K Bar K Farm » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:52 am

Paul,

I swear I've seen that photo before- did it go around in a chain email at some point?

I went to snopes.com to look for it, and found the following link, for what it's worth (not related to your pic, but related to this thread):


http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/coyote.asp

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