Last evening I spoke with my personal friends, Don and Jeannie
Jones of Collins Park regarding wolf depredation on their dairy cows. Mr. and Mrs. Jones ride all day, every day with
their cattle and see wolves in the area regularly. Don
says that he lost 103 head of cattle in 2005, and knows for a certainty that 15 are
confirmed wolf kills. He knows that most of
his losses are wolf kills, but has difficulty confirming all, because when a calf is
taken, it is taken completely away. Also,
remains he does find are so drastically consumed that it is hard to confirm. With the number of wolves in the area, he sees on a
regular basis, he believes wolves are responsible for the majority of the kills.
This morning I spoke with Preston Bates of the N Bar Ranch
regarding his losses. Mr. Bates bought his
ranch 12 years ago and runs cattle, along with a guest ranch. This is not a dude ranch, but men and women pay to
run his cattle for him. The cattle were paying
his mortgage and the guest ranch part of the business was his profit to keep himself in
From 1999 to 2002 he was seeing a calf production rate of
79%. In 2005 losses to wolves were reflected
in a 49% production rate. His cattle are no
longer paying his mortgage and he was forced to sell 35 high quality cattle horses to
cover losses. Because of the quality of these
horses, Preston regularly had a minimum of 10 people, 22 weeks of the year, using his
horses and running his cattle. Because of the
forced sale of 35 horses, he now only can accept 4 people a week and spends almost all his
time babysitting cattle and calves, against wolves. His
total losses to wolves are 60% of his total income. He
had to lay off 2 employees, one of whom is married with a family of two children. Preston rides 125 square miles of ranch JUST
looking for body parts of cattle and calves. He
makes a 1 hour loop at least 3 times daily.
Mr. Bates estimates that his losses reflect in excess of
$5000 per month to the economy in Reserve, just from his spending alone. This community lost 2 paid employees from the ranch
who cashed their paychecks at the local bank and shopped in the local community, also. Mr. Bates spent no less than $5000 himself,
shopping at Jakes grocery store for livestock feed and groceries to run the guest
ranch, and made fuel purchases locally. Those
guests and employees likewise spent money in the local economy.
Mr. Bates lost 22 branded calves, 35 unbranded calves and 3
cows. His first losses during calving season
years ago, were to the Saddle Pack and Jim Blair suffered losses to the same pack. Now, Preston Bates is dealing with the Luna Pack. He began dealing with this pack 2 years ago. Preston deals with a total of 7-12 wolves in a
single day, every day. Since that time, they
have successfully bred and raised 2 yearlings who are now terrorizing cattle and learning
to hunt. They are already extremely
aggressive. There are 4 in this pack, alone. Yesterday, January 26, 2006 he followed this pack
all day. He has come face to face with a male
adult IN HIS CAMP. They are not afraid of him
and are aggressive.
Mr. Bates feels that it is nearly impossible to get the
government to admit when a wolf kill is a wolf kill, because of the 3 strike rule. Three kills and a wolf must be destroyed.
Not only is the entire community suffering due to Mr. Bates
losses, but the equivalent losses of all the local ranchers, and their employees.