Wolves already ravaging Colorado farm animals, families, finances | GABEL

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Rachel Gabel



The car crashed into Anderson’s farm near Walden on Friday morning. Around 6:00 a.m., Brian Anderson Cool was bringing cows down the driveway to the bullpen trailer. The squeal of cows pushing down the road, the squeal of steel being loaded and the squeal of cows climbing onto the trailer were the sounds of fall in cow country early in the morning.

The rolling aluminum doors on the trailer rolled up, rolled down and slammed shut. When the light of the day has fully arrived, the cattle farm is fully awake, the cows are trying to feed, the mother cows are standing straight up and calling the calf that stretches their tails up. Fall temperatures hovered in the single digits and steam rolled over the cows as they milled around in the pen. Diesel trucks and a pickup were swept away, and a loaded truck and trailer crashed into a cattle guard on the way into town.

Anderson, who works as a local brand manager, works alongside his brother and father, Philip. The family ran a couple of hundred cow calves and ran a large flock of sheep. Now Brian and his wife Faith and their children run a small flock of about 30 sheep. Philip was checking the mine shafts when he called Brian to tell him he had found some dead sheep.

The three sheep, Hampshire Suffolk crosses, were positioned as replacements to add to the flock with the best combination of genetic potential and phenotype. The Anderson children are members of 4-H, and remove airfoils from their own herd to display at the county fair. They also feature market stalls, and a string of shows — Mr. Frimple Pants and Oreo, among them — watch the morning rush.

The three sheep that died in a line about 100 yards from Brian’s front door went out. All had puncture wounds, claw marks and bruises. One of her breasts was eaten away. Another tore the fur off her side, exposing her muscles and tendons. They were not eaten, but killed. One of them was warm to the touch as he had found her to love an hour or so earlier. Perhaps a cattle truck rolling into the yard startled the assailant.

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Brian called Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the local wildlife manager arrived quickly and put a damper on the sheep. They studied the telemetry data, confirmed that a coyote was in the area, and CPW’s boots on the ground bought the condemnation due to wolves, maybe just one. Anderson was given a lot of paperwork to get compensation for the three sheep. On paper, the sheep were worth $2 a pound and at 110 pounds they were fetching over $200 each. During their productive life, however, they are expected to produce 20 lambs each. On paper, the sheep that enter the feed supply can go to a plate meat company through Anderson’s farm or be marketed at a local grocery store, bringing income to the ranch and the small community of Walden.

Determining the value of livestock is not an exact science. For Anderson’s 8-year-old daughter, the value may lie in the excitement of the upcoming sheep season. Bottle babies aren’t the goal, but the chance to grab one, nurse it on rough days, and gain a loyal companion for life is where the value lies. To Anderson’s children, the value comes from the years she spent investing time and energy into her 4-H cubs so she could invest her money back into her herd. The flock is built one by one and carefully selected by assessing their genetic potential and ability to increase lamb production. After nearly a year of work preparing for the show, after a junior market sale of livestock, tears are shed even by children who understand how the story ends.

The value may lie in the investments Anderson made last cattle season, Philip, who is the immediate past president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and Brian, a board member of the North Park Stockholders Association, who put their money where their mouths are. And a stretchy fence is installed during delivery. Brian concluded months ago that maintaining the family’s longstanding relationship with local CPW workers and finding a way to deal with the presence of wolves is non-negotiable for someone who wants to see his kids starving on farms 20 miles away in the big country — wolf country. South of the Wyoming border.

Rachel Gable He writes about agriculture and rural issues. She is the assistant editor of the Fence Post magazine, the region’s leading agricultural publication. Gable The daughter of the state’s oil and gas industry and a member of one of 12,000 ranching families, she has produced children’s books used to teach students about agriculture in hundreds of classrooms.



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