Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rumors about wolves need correcting

John T. Peavey owns and operates the Flat Top Sheep Co. ranch near Carey.


Regarding rumors about the wolves on Flat Top Sheep Co. lands:

First, I never requested the killing of wolves after we found a dead calf on our ranch meadows in late August. That decision came from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and was in place as a result of previous depredations on neighboring ranches even before the wolves showed up on our meadows and near our homes.

Second, non-lethal means of protecting our animals has always been our first line of defense against wolves. From the earliest sighting of wolves on our lands, I have explored options for non-lethal methods of coexisting with these animals. My family and I have participated in numerous meetings with federal, state and local government officials, nonprofit animal-advocacy organizations and the Nez Perce tribe on non-lethal methods of protecting our animals. We have employed these suggestions, which we view as sound management practices in times of danger, moving animals, often miles, from traditional grazing areas to keep them out of harm's way. We have put up electric fencing around our sheep when the terrain allows. We have added guard dogs to protect the animals around the clock and extra herders to guard the animals through the night.

We have contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (now USDA APHIS) as directed at the first sign of trouble and also Defenders of Wildlife. On Friday, we met with staff of Defenders of Wildlife to discuss the death of the calf, a new experience for us. We were warned of wolf sightings and had moved the cows and calves from isolated backcountry to our headquarters in an unsuccessful effort to save lives.

Finally, my family's life work for over four generations has been the care and protection of Flat Top Sheep Co. lands—its open space, wildlife, migratory corridors, rivers and trout streams—its entire ecosystem. At the same time, we take pride in raising animals that are an all-natural source of food and fiber. We share our respect and love for this land with anyone who wants to spend time with us. We are always exploring ways to do things better. This landscape is our legacy to our family, Blaine County and Idaho, and we take this responsibility seriously.

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