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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Predators and Prey

Predators and Prey

Sheep have eyes on the sides of their heads. They are prey.

Most everything else that invades a farm or ranch have eyes in the front of their head. They are predators.

What do you do when your sheep start disappearing? How far do you go to prevent a loss? How far SHOULD you go to prevent a loss?

When we as shepherds have lambs surrounding us, we also must realize that all of the predators out there are now having kids of their own. They are hungry. They must feed what they have helped multiply. Lambs make good meals. Sheep make good meals. When a predator takes down a lamb or sheep, they don't make a noise.

Neither do the lambs or sheep. Rarely do they make a sound.

And then we can't find them.

A friend recently had a mature sheep disappear... into thin air. Poachers, perhaps. But more likely a predator. What to do, what to do??

You decide what is best for you and your flock. You need to weigh the elimination of a predator against the elimination of one of your sheep or lambs, or more than one of them. Only you can decide what is best. Your local laws may help guide you just what you can and can't do of course. Federal laws also come into play, along with big fat fines and possible jail time if it's protected. You need to know your laws. I will repeat, since this is VERY important, you NEED to know your laws. And your rights. And that of the predators. And that of the prey. Crimes of passion. And once in a great while, a good lawyer. Do you have a good lawyer? They can come in handy when you are a passionate person.

Predators and prey. We live with a lot of both here.

Moose have it pretty good, they can kill an attacker with those front hooves, rearing up and flailing away. Not only domestic dogs, not only wolves and fox, but once in a great while, humans that are foolish enough to get in the way of their proceedings. A man was killed a few years ago at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus coming out of a school building that a moose was grazing in front of in the winter. They had it on video, showed it on the news. It wasn't the first human to go bye-bye, and it won't be the last. I wish sheep could take lessons from the moose.

The 1st photo above is of the moose that seem to congregate here in the fall, a few days after hunting season closes. The 2nd photo is dark, but you can count 10 in that photo. They like the 10 acre organic hay field below the house, they know it's good for them I suppose. If you look closely, there is a young bull moose there mid photo on the left. He was a very happy boy that fall as no other bulls showed up. I'd rather have my sheep grazing down there after the fall cutting, but they might have to fight another prey animal for space. Of course, perhaps then the sheep would finally learn to rear up on their hind legs and defend themselves.....

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