We had 18 more sheep killed the past two nights, bringing the total lost well above 30. It’s just awful to see this happening.
We have been working so hard on this - working with multiple wildlife specialists for the past five days, we added a higher hot fence around the whole pen, we set up cameras, the dogs were in there patrolling and Brian stayed up last night keeping watch on the herd from sundown until 3am. The predators we are currently dealing with seem to be particularly bold.
Two lambs were killed between 3-5am, the only time Brian wasn’t in the pen.
It seems to be a combination of a bear and a mountain lion from what the wildlife specialists think.
We’re resorting to moving the whole herd around the house now to keep them safe (safer) until we can get this predator issue under control.
We put them on the hill to keep them as safe and dry as possible in the winter and early spring and it’s worked so well until now.
But it’s part of ranching to adapt and change what you’re doing to keep your animals health and safety as first priority, despite changing conditions.
Apex predators really throw a wrench in things especially when they seem to converge at once and are killing for sport (not eating their kill) something we’ve never faced before.
We did have a wolf on our property last month, one of the first to enter California, which caused us to change some of our practices. It might be just coincidence but we’ve never had a problem with bears killing our livestock until we buried our dead pile last month, a practice suggested to keep wolves from settling on the ranch.
Brian questioned what this would do to the bears’ need to look elsewhere for a food source (the “dead pile” is way up on our mountain and is just what it sounds for livestock that die on the ranch, and seemed in the past to be a natural solution to the cycle of life.)
We will keep adjusting what we do to protect our flock as best we can, today that means letting them graze our front yard and staying close to the house with us. It’s heartbreaking, especially to see Brian working around the clock to protect this herd and feeling so defeated when our best still isn’t good enough.