Tuesday, October 29, 2013
It’s been nearly two months since Rena tangled with wolves while protecting our sheep herd in the foothills of the southern Wind River Mountains. She has recovered nicely – no major muscle loss, but some stiffness in her hind end remains, and we suspect that won’t change. The sheep herd has moved home for the winter, and Rena is happily back on guardian duty, but tires easily. We’re hopeful for a quiet winter.
The essay I posted here on Q about the weekend of the wolf attacks on our herd has been widely read, and I’m pleased to say that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe was one of those readers. Ashe quoted some of the essay at a carnivore conservation conference at Yale this week, and showed the crowd a photo of wounded Rena. His point in doing so was to urge those present “to think about the people who must share the landscape with these species. We need their support, their understanding and their forbearance if we want to see large carnivores roaming free.
“We must seek solutions that work for them, as well as for the species we manage. To do otherwise will perpetuate the conflict and make it harder for carnivores to gain acceptance.
“Compassion and empathy. That’s the key.” Amen to that, Mr. Ashe. Thanks for spreading the word.
Rena’s responsibilities have increased now that she’s healed up and her sheep are home. Her 9-year old mother, Luv’s Girl, gave birth to four pups in early October, so she’s on maternity leave. Luv’s Girl will race out to join Rena in reacting to a perceived threat, but she isn’t actively patrolling since she’s too busy tending to her pups. We’re night penning the sheep to give the dogs a break, but Rena stays double-busy checking the herd, and then checking her mother with the new puppies in their natal den. We’ll keep one of the pups to raise in our herd, and send the others out to other livestock producers who need working dogs. I think we can say with confidence that this lineage is wolf- and bear-tested.