“The greatest deterrent
to freedom are men and women of zeal, well-meaning, but
without knowledge or understanding.”
~Justice Louis Brandeis~

"People are so quick to defend their own agendas, but they so often fail to realize we must protect the rights of all if we are to continue to have any rights of our own."

Ranch meaning, in general, any real world dwelling probably not involving full care board. Kind of a rural voice of real horse owners, trainers, traders, auction owners, rodeo contractors, etc.. all of us who have taken a verbal beating and called greedy ass hats. Back at the Ranch contributors, moderators, subjects, and so on, are pro-horse, pro-owner, and pro-slaughter.
Back at the Ranch was formed by a group of like minded horse / livestock owners. It is a place for us to try to educate, a place to vent our frustrations with the current equine industry, a place to share humor and snark, and in general try to open the eyes of the public who seem to be anti-agriculture.We do have a section for comments of course, and if you would like to email us you can do so directly or through the contact us form. We like to hear from our readers. I hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as I enjoy managing it.
Ranch Manager

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For…….

When I started out to write a column on how the New Humane Horse Culture felt about Jason Meduna of the now infamous Three Strikes Mustang Ranch before he was prosecuted I ran across the Wild Horse Preservation Society’s website. That led to the 41 Mustangs column, that column led to the Now That You Mentioned It Column, and that column plus some other things tied into the Here’s What I Think Column we all had so much fun with a few days ago. When we first began this blog I wrote an entry called How Can This Make Sense. The column examined Mrs. Pickens plan to fund an eco-tourism/sanctuary for not only 30,000 mustangs, give or take a few but other rejected horses as well. All of these columns have been interrelated, one leading to the other. We can’t expect any choice we make involving the care of our livestock or wildlife which inhabit our lands both public and private to have no impact on something else. We have to balance the cost with the emotion.
The balancing act going on everyday between managing our natural resources and expecting our land and landowners to produce the food supply of a nation illustrates this point vividly. It’s why Madeleine’s Mustang Ranch is not cost free to the nation even if she foots the entire bill. It’s why the mustangs have to be managed in the first place. The BLM must manage them but……they shouldn’t round them up…….they shouldn’t keep them in captivity…….they shouldn’t kill them to avoid keeping them in captivity……in short they should be allowed run free…..free to die a natural humane death………to live in harmony with the other creatures of their habitat……and the federal government is reintroducing indigenous predators once eradicated back into that habitat.
I am not sure how this all ties together. I don’t mean this to read we should do away with wolves, mustangs, conservation efforts, or jump all the way to the right or the left. I am going to put this out to the blog because nothing we do, no matter how well intended, is without consequence. Sometimes we don’t see those consequences as well as we should. We are caught up in what feels good to us. It feels good to us to know wolves are wild and free in the west. It feels good to know the mustangs are there too. If it feels good and we don’t personally have to live with the cost we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture.
This was recently forwarded to me. Keep in mind this person is not asking all wolves be destroyed, only that they be removed from the protected species list so the ranchers can kill the ones causing the damage. The following is the email accompanying the ad in the Missoulian paid for by the Montana Cattlemen’s Association, the Montana Woolgrowers, and several private ranches. I haven’t passed on the worst of the pictures. I believe we all have a good imagination and I don’t particularly care for the animal people using shock photos to get a point across ……
Who's really paying for these carnivorous wolves?If you have a heart at all and like being able to eat meat produced here in the USA then you need to read this and look at each and every picture and read each and every account written by these Montana ranchers!I DO NOT apologize for forwarding on such graphic pictures! It is reality and reality will hit all of you someday in one way or another...like it or not!It must be stopped and the wolves MUST be de-listed (like they promised us they would) so that we can protect our livestock and our own lives! They (animal right's activists/PETA/Etc.) have gone way over their goal and are fooling you and lying to all Americans! It is well past time for the good people of this great country to take control of our future before there is nothing left in the West for tourist to see...whether it be ranches or our beautiful wildlife. It is high time that we/you start thinking about what your children and grandchildren will survive on. We need to save the meat from both livestock and wildlife now so that our children and grandchildren will be able to eat and survive in the future. If you think that your businesses that are safely tucked away in the city won't be affected by rancher's loosing livestock in the west then you are sadly mistaken. Take a look at 2008 and 2009's financial economy mess for a reference to that fact! It all starts with a little loss here and a little loss there!
The ad copy which is personally written accounts by the ranches involved and a few of the pictures it contained.

Dear Readers:
Here are some photographs that ranchers have submitted for this ad which are verified wolf kills. These are not pretty by any means; however, they need to be shown. Many times the carnage is not visually recorded as we do not always have cameras with us when wolf kills are discovered. Ranchers have paid dearly for the reintroduction of wolves, both financially and emotionally, as you can see from these photos submitted by ranchers throughout Montana. Ranchers were never in favor of reintroducing the wolf on our public lands. We feared the wolf reintroduction plan would not only be detrimental to livestock and pets, but we were certain other wildlife populations would be seriously affected as well. That fear has proven to be well-founded. Our ranches are home to moose, elk, deer, bear, coyotes and a host of smaller animals. Montana ranchers pride themselves on preserving the natural habitat of these wildlife populations and enjoy seeing them as they roam across our lands. However, the reintroduced gray wolf has viciously decimated Montana's wildlife numbers. Young animals are no match for a stealthy wolf!
The facts of wolf reintroduction: The original recovery goal for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain region consisting of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming was for a total population of 300 wolves and 30 breeding pair. That goal was attained in 2002 and has been exceeded every year since. At the end of 2007 there were approximately 1500 wolves and at the end of 2008 the estimate was 1645 wolves and 95 breeding pairs. This is more than five times the number of wolves called for in the reintroduction plan! A total of 102 wolf deaths were documented in 2007; 73 were related to livestock, depredations, seven were killed illegally, and six were struck by vehicles or trains. Others died from a variety of causes common to all wildlife species, including poor health and old age. Fish, Wildlife, & Parks documented a minimum of 163 pups at the end of 2007. In 2008 there were 155 deaths with a minimum of 147 pups. Despite the death loss of these wolves, the wolf population is still very secure, is well above the recovery criteria, and continues to increase by a minimum of 18% every year. It is clear the northern Rocky Mountain’s gray wolf population has exceeded all recovery goals. The out-of-control explosion of wolf population growth has been devastating to wildlife and livestock as hungry wolves compete for food. For livestock producers, so far the confirmed death loss in 2008-2009 has been 130 head of cattle, 183 sheep, 13 goats, 2 guard dogs, 2 horses, and 8 llamas. These numbers may not seem alarming until you take into consideration that for every confirmed kill there are three or four more that are not confirmed for various reasons.
Unfortunately, producers are only reimbursed 1/8 of the actual loss value. Ranchers support the delisting of the gray wolf so they may be managed properly to maintain an eco-friendly existence with other wildlife species and livestock. “The Ranch at Wolf Creek has used guard dogs and herders for over 10 years as non-lethal deterrents to predators. Five guard dogs fighting against four wolves did not stop the savage killing of Duke. The wolves were not deterred by the guard dogs or the presence of the herder. Statistics recorded by Wildlife Services and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks show a continued increase in the population of wolves throughout Montana. Consequently, there has also been increased predation by wolves on livestock and domestic pets. The presence of wolves also causes a very substantial monetary loss to livestock producers. Livestock stressed by the presence and harassment of wolves have a lower conception rate, abort their pregnancy, and show reduced weight gain. Wolves can be a part of the eco system but should not be allowed to destroy Montana. Since their reintroduction they have not only had a very serious affect on livestock throughout western Montana, but they have had a devastating effect on Montana's wildlife. If the wolf population is not controlled, not only will Montana's livestock producers lose, but Montana's wildlife will be decimated." - Ranch
"Our family has been ranching in Montana for over 140 years. Never before have we seen such savagery to defenseless animals as we have seen since the reintroduction of the gray wolf. To kill, a wolf will grab hold of the animal and hang on until there is enough blood hemorrhage underneath the skin that they die. We have also had a calf that they ate the hind end while he was still alive. We brought the pair home, but the calf died from its wounds and the mother died from stress. We realize that wolves are here to stay, but we need to be able to protect our property, our family, our pets and our livelihood. We would like to be able to say 20 years from now that we are on the 6th generation of ranchers in our family, but wolves can put any rancher out of business." Ranch, Drummond
“On the Ranch of Dillon we raise both cattle & sheep and have done so for many years. We began to see losses shortly after wolves were released in 1996. We have seen many opportunistic killings by wolves. Many times they will kill an animal and not eat it. We have seen an increase of wildlife on our home pastures during the winter months due to the predation of their populations. This we feel is a very fair trade off as we share their mountain pastures in the summer. The use of our ranges have been severely reduced due to the wolves; it is very hard to manage our summer pastures and continue to be good stewards when our animals are chased from these areas. They, like everything else, just want to be safe. Ranchers do contribute greatly to the circle of industry and life in a very important manner. What it takes for us to supply our product to consumers is open spaces, clean air, water, sunshine and lots of hard work. Dealing with the wolves just makes it that much harder and more discouraging". Ranch, Dillon

"The Ranch in Phillipsburg was a pretty, peaceful place up until three years ago. It was home to content cows, deer, elk and other wildlife. That all ended when the wolves moved in. They have killed our livestock and wildlife in close proximity to our ranch headquarters. The picture of the wolf shown above was taken without a telephoto lens! These animals have gotten so bold they have absolutely no respect for humans. There is no place on our ranch that is safe anymore. As the wolves increase in numbers, we have also seen a steady increase in the loss of our calves and the decrease in our cow conception rate due to stress. We wish for the return of the peaceful days we once had!” - Ranch, Phillipsburg
"This spring at the Ranch we had 7 confirmed kills on the calving ground and 60 first calf heifers aborted due to the stress from harassment of the wolves. So this spring alone the ranch has lost $50,000.00 worth of cattle. And this is before we put our cattle out to summer pasture! I'm not looking forward to counting the losses when we bring them home this fall. The Montana Livestock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Board has paid us on the 7 confirmed kills, but we have a bigger loss on the unconfirmed cattle for which we are not being reimbursed. With the hits we are taking from the reintroduced wolf, how do we pay our bills? And who is going to bail out the ranchers from these losses when it was our own government that reintroduced the wolf in our backyards?" - Ranch, Niarada
"We raise both cattle and sheep. During the past year we have witnessed more "joy" killing by wolves - animals that were alive with their guts hanging out or torn up so bad in the hind quarters they had to be euthanized. We've lost two yearling steers weighing over 600 pounds. We've lost several ewes and over 25 lambs. These brutal attacks have brought lots of tears. I had to look at my ewes that had their guts torn out and lying on the ground still alive and tell them there was nothing I could do. We live only 100 yards off Highway 1. These attacks occurred within 1/4 mile of our house. We have elk on our property, and the wolves passed right through them to come down and kill our livestock; so NO, wolves don't just prey on wild game." - Ranch, Drummond
"Wolves have attacked our sheep in Sweet Grass County, killing three and maiming one so badly that we had to put her down the following day. Wolf recovery people would like you to believe that wolves only prey on the old, weak, and crippled animals. These ewes were all under 3 years of age, their most productive, healthiest years. We as producers find it very discouraging and disheartening to be forced to euthanize our own livestock, all for a wolf recovery program that we didn’t want nor seem to have any control over. Lambing is a family effort that takes hard work, long hours, and good management. We are working even harder since the attacks. Ultimately, all of this work will make NO difference when the wolves 'find' the sheep again! We also understand that there were so many livestock deaths to wolves last year that the recovery program has no more money to compensate the hard-working producer " - Sweet Grass County
"We've lost 4 times more livestock in two years with wolves than we have in 10 years with coyotes, bears, fox and lions. Predators such as coyotes and bears consume their kills; the wolves have yet to eat what has been killed on our ranch. I have not received any compensation for our livestock losses. I feel our tax dollars are going DIRECTLY towards the destruction of our own livestock with the wolf reintroduction program." Ranch, Two Dot
" Livestock is a family owned, fourth-generation sheep and cattle ranch. We have been using all non-lethal methods available in an attempt to keep the wolves away from our sheep. Lately, due to the growing wolf population, they seem to be more aggressive. The wolf kills started in the spring of 2004 and are increasing every year as the wolf population grows. In many cases it seems the wolf just kills for
the fun of it. We run cows and calves on forest and BLM lands during the summer months and we always come up few head short every fall. Unless something is done to control the wolf population, they will continue to increase at an alarming rate. It will be hard for the Montana rancher to stay in business because of the wolf predation on livestock and the resulting financial burden. Wildlife have also changed their habits to try and survive wolf attacks. Instead of living in their natural habitat elk, deer, and other herbivores are congregating in large numbers for protection, thus impacting private property of land owners. At this rate the wolf harvest of wildlife will result in the near total elimination of the animals we have all learned to admire." Livestock, Dillo

I have taken the names out of all these in the interest of privacy. You might say I have no faith in my fellow man. I have been involved in enough discussions and research in my short experience with this blog to learn to keep some of the animal people safely at cyber arm’s length. I wish to allow others the same courtesy while still trying to make a point. This is a list of the damages incurred so far:
Avon, 3 confirmed wolf kills, 34 missing calves, 2 ranch dogs, Since 1995 lost $30,000 +
Niarada, 7 confirmed wolf kills, 20 missing calves, 60 aborted 1st calf heifers, 50 lbs. lost weight, $50,000
Two Dot, 3 separate kill dates, 22 confirmed wolf kills, 30+ unconfirmed kills, $500 vet bills, 66 open ewes, 3 year total $28,000
Hot Springs, calf and 3 others were confirmed wolf kills last summer, 12 animals missing- 40 dry cows, 50 lbs. per calf weight loss, Total cost $25,000 +
Phillipsburg, 7 confirmed wolf kills, 18 missing, 60 open animals, 25 lbs+ weight loss, 3 year cost $88,500
Big Timber, 4 confirmed wolf kills
Drummond, 8 confirmed wolf kills, (2 steers, 4 sheep), 25+ missing lambs, Total cost 2008-2009 $40,000
Reed Point, 31 confirmed wolf kills, 13 missing ewes & lambs, 100+ head dry ewes, $78,000 +
Drummond, 6 confirmed wolf kills, 100 missing calves, 45 lbs. per calf weight loss, $150,000 in the last 3 years
Lonepine, 1 confirmed wolf kill, 2 missing, 2 dry cows. Left summer range 2 weeks early, $4,500 +
Dillon, 24 confirmed wolf kills, 250 missing, 4 guard dogs and 2 stock dogs killed, $1000+ vet bills, Range that is not utilized due to wolves, $120,000 since 1996
Kila, 2 confirmed kills, 2 dry cows, 25 lbs. weight loss, Total $5000
Wolf Creek, 4 confirmed wolf kills, 2 dogs
Dillon, 38 confirmed wolf kills, 35 sheep, 2 calves, 1 yearling steer, 20 head of sheep wounded and 1 yearling steer., 1 Guard dog seriously injured
I am looking forward to comments. What do you think? Mustangs, wolves, the balance of nature, greed, profit, family business, food supply, making a living versus the warm fuzzy feelings, natural selection, and what need are we trying to satisfy? What cost are we willing to bear ourselves or impose on others to “do the right thing”? And in some cases what exactly is the right thing?
We went to Pluto and back in the comments on the Horse Market Opinion column. Internet experts, humanitarians, and champions of a safe world food supply all chimed in. Didn’t necessarily have anything much to say but they chimed in. So what’s the answer in a perfect world? As in any other good cause how much cost is too much? We are trying to answer that in other debates too by the way.

written by RH1


  1. Very good, and also very sad. I think this is a case of good intentions gone bad, and a lack of control over a program meant to do something good. The losses these families are seeing not only monetarily but also emotionally are plain to see. And there does not seem to be any answer for them. While the intent to re-introduce the wolf may have been a good one, the lack of foresight for having a way of planning to control the population, and the inability to compensate those who are suffering losses due to this is truly sad. I agree, it's easy for us to feel good about something when we're not suffering the consequences.

  2. The ranch here out of Dillon had two horses killed two years ago by wolfs, Last year there was a pack of 7 wolfs that killed 4 longhorn steers about 20 miles from me. I got a call one day from the forest service, they said that they had killed 5 of the 7 wolfs that were doing the killing but the two that got away were headed my way and were seen in my upper pasture not a hour before this phone call. Two days later the wolfs where seen in with my horses in the lower winter pasture. Montana law states that if a wolf is seen in the same pasture as livestock they can be killed, before they even kill any livestock. Yes that is right.. kill the wolf before it kills your livestock. When I got the call that the wolfs where seen in with the horses I took my gun and went wolf hunting. No I did not see them again but this summer just about 5 days ago I was told that there is a pack of 10 in the valley, and the livestock owners are on the look out for them. My horses are in the big pasture on the mountain so today I have to go bring them in to the winter pasture 4 months early and will have to buy a extra 50 ton of hay to make sure that there is feed till next year.
    The ranch is up for sale as over the years the wolf loss has been to great.
    If they do get the wolf tags sold this year and wolfs are to be hunted then I will open my 2,000 acr. to the hunters.
    I also would like to know how they come up with the crap that there was no wolfs in the GREAT US of A before they put there big fat faces in it... there has always been wolfs here in the west. on the wolfs here knew to stay in the Saleway where people could not get to very easy at all. were they could live and hunt but yet people and livestock where not around them.

  3. I think your right g810girl, good intentions gone bad. I also think there was a lack of foresight and lack of knowledge and listening involved. The people who pushed and "won" are not the people who live there and are affected by this. Those ranchers, property owners and animal owners, should have every right to shoot an animal that is maiming and killing their stock (or pets) on their property. I love wildlife but I hate tying anyone's hands so they can't protect what's theirs. Their income, their livelihood and the physical beings who depend on them.

  4. I agree. I see the trend of those who do not actually live on farms, ranches, etc., and do not actually own horses, cattle and livestock gaining power and dictating what those who do should be able to do on their land and with their animals. I find that not only insulting, but dangerous. Wolves are beautiful animals, but as the article shows, often dangerous and destructive. Those supporting what they believe to be their safety do not live on the farms and ranches affected by the destruction of packs growing by the year. They sit in their homes feeling good about what they've accomplished, while those whose livings are affected try to recoup the loss, and stop the destruction.

  5. Thank you for your input. It was part of the reason we put this up after the great horse market opinion scandal here. Sometimes nature is not all that pretty either. I am sure you know better than I how wolves bring down their prey.

    It seems to be a popular opinion these days that with all that land "somewhere in the west" there should be endless room for all. Thanks again for helping me point out this not the case. Nothing is without cost.