Sheep rancher [Mike Stevens] seeks peace with wolves

Sheep rancher seeks peace with wolves. Lava Lake Land and Livestock uses non-lethal measures to protect herds. By Jason Kaufmann. Idaho Mountain Express.

If there are a lot of wolves around your sheep bands, you are going lose quite a few sheep, right? And so every so often you have to have the government kill a bunch of wolves?

Lava Lake Land and Livestock which runs sheep on over 700,000 acres of central Idaho wolf country has proven this to be wrong. Their magic method is don’t respond to wolves in the traditional rancher fashion.



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  1. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    this article needs to be emailed to Clem(butch) Otter aquin and again and again and again…………. I’ll start it off.

  2. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    sorry, missed one again

  3. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    I always love discovering new websites that use non-compliant code. I can’t view this article in my browser because I use a compliant browser that isn’t compatible with Microsoft Front Page.

  4. cred Avatar

    Interesting article. I wonder how much more the sheep ranchers have to charge per pound to make up for the cost of five more dogs (livestock guardian dogs [LGD] are not inexpensive – and not every LGD one purchases or breeds turns out to be a good LGD), extra personnel armed with shotguns and rubber bullets and electrified night fencing, along with with the cost of the extra work of gathering and hearding the sheep daily.

  5. SAP Avatar

    Cred – that stuff costs a lot. But it’s not like the rancher can pull up to the sale yards and insist that his lambs or calves are worth a lot more because she put in thousands of $$ to coexist with predators.

    When you go to the yards or the stock buyer comes to your place, the price you get is based on current markets and expected carcass quality. Buyers typically don’t care if you were nice to carnivores.

    So, how does a rancher pay for those measures? Clearly, the rich, progressive ranch owners can foot the bill for a lot of this without really needing to see a whole lot of actual dollars in return. Even in that subset of ranchers, though, it’s rare to find ones that don’t want their businesses running close to profitability.

    There are no easy answers. But one possible way to pay for this stuff is for consumers who care about carnivores to seek out meat or wool that can be certified predator friendly. See, for example:

    One of the biggest hurdles is consumer apathy and selfishness. The vast majority of American meat-eaters just want something cheap that won’t send them to the ER. Then there are the upscale consumers, whose first criterion appears to be taste (understandably), and second, that it’s healthy for them (full of ‘good fat,’ no antibiotics or hormones), and third, maybe, that it’s good for the land. Where do predators fit in their ranking? I don’t know.

    Of course, getting the products out there is the first step in raising awareness. Thank goodness that there are outfits like Lava Lake that can raise lamb on a large enough scale to get people thinking about predator-friendly production methods, as well as sustaining some financial losses while the market develops.

  6. elkhunter Avatar

    Cred who cares about the cost, it saves wolves.

  7. elkhunter Avatar

    Ralph I was in Fort Bridger WY this weekend, and the lady told me that there were lots of wolves in that area, I thinkshe had no idea what she was talking about. Are there wolves there?

    None are known to be there. It’s possible one or two have moved it unknown to the the feds or the state, but “a lot,” no way! . . . urban (rural) legend.

  8. kim kaiser Avatar

    wil it kill someone ot pay 1.25 instead of a 1.00 for a macdonalds hamburger,,,,,i htink not,,hell, they almost give whoppers away on specials for a buck,,,

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Lava Lake doesn’t sell their sheep at any special place. Their big cost last year was losing a lot of their stock in a truck accident.

    Mike Stevens says since the wolves have moved in, the coyote population is down enough to more than offset any losses to wolves.

    It it pretty well known that coyotes take far more sheep than wolves do, with the occasional exception.

  10. elkhunter Avatar

    Ya I would agree with you, it did not look like wolf country, more like antelope country which we saw alot of, in fact at Flaming Gorge they lay down ten feet from you in the shade at your campsite and wander through the parking lot down to the boat ramp to get drinks. Its kinda wierd. We got some HUGE lake trout though. They are pretty impressive fish, our guide said they were 15-20 years old. We caught about 5 of them. Biggest one 18lbs. It was fun, you should go up there Ralph.

  11. skyrim Avatar

    Lake Trout are big lazy slugs. Dragging one in is like pulling up a boot full of water. Mounted one once and hung it on the wall. (during my brief Trophy Hunter stage) Damn thing kept looking at me with that one eye. I gave it away to someone who the fish never looked at. ;-))

  12. elkhunter Avatar

    We let all our’s go, except the smallest one. They say that they are populating very quickly and are encouraging people to take a limit, but we heard that the big old ones taste like crap so we let em go. The did not fight like lazy slugs! Took out over 60 feet of line in two different runs. Plus it takes alot to even get them to bite.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan