Colorado Rancher gets help installing electric fence to protect livestock from wolves – CBS Denver


WALDEN, Colorado (CBS4) – A Jackson County rancher who lost two cows in two days to wolf attacks tries temporary electric fences to deter the pack from killing more of his cattle. But he says the fences are expensive, blown away and might not scare wolves at all.

Gittleson Ranch game camera, January 2022 (Credit: Don Gittleson via Steamboat Radio News)

Don Gittleson raises cattle on a large tract of land near the Colorado-Wyoming border. On January 18, Gittleson found a cow, still alive but bleeding profusely after a wolf attack. He said he had to drop it off. The very next day, he discovered that another cow had been killed and partially eaten. Wildlife officials have confirmed that both cases were wolf depredation.

(credit: Don Gittleson)

Gittleson thinks there are eight wolves in the pack in his area.

Gray wolves are protected in Colorado, which means breeders can only use non-lethal hazing techniques to deter attacks.

(credit: CBS)

For Gittleson, that involved installing polywire electric fencing around about 50 acres of his property.

(credit: Don Gittleson)

A dozen local ranchers and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials helped him, and he said it took them about six hours to put up about two miles of fencing. Plus, he said fencing is expensive — $4-5,000 per mile. Wildlife advocates donated about a mile of the fence, he said.

Unfortunately sections of it were blown away the next day.

“Between the labor and the cost and the fact that it doesn’t handle the wind…if the fence has to blow on the ground every time the wind blows, it’s very labor intensive,” Gittleson told CBS4.

Don Gittleston gives one of his heifers medicine for an abscess on his side January 25, 2022 near Walden, Colorado. (credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The electric fence is lined with long red ribbons that blow in the wind and are meant to scare away wolves. Gittleson isn’t convinced it will be effective, noting that his border collie and Jack Russell terrier aren’t bothered by it.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s not really scary at all,” he said. “It’s probably a very temporary thing.”

Protecting his dogs is another concern for Gittleson. Wolves killed one of his neighbour’s dogs and injured another earlier this month.

Carlos Atencio pets one of his working dogs in the back of his truck on January 24, 2022 in Walden, Colorado. Atencio’s dog, Izzy, is recovering after being attacked by a wolf earlier in January. (credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

RELATED: Wolf kills dog, injures another in Jackson County

“I dare not lose sight of the dogs,” he says. “They can’t go out at night at all because the wolves go around the houses, they’re not afraid to go around the house.”

Gittleson said he expects fatal encounters between wolves and dogs to become more common in the future as packs expand in Colorado. He warned that anyone taking their dog into the backcountry should be aware of the danger.

Gittleson Ranch game camera, January 2022 (Credit: Don Gittleson via Steamboat Radio News)

“What you’re going to see in the future, there are a lot more people in Colorado who like the outdoors, people in the city like to go into the backcountry with their pets, wolves consider that as a competition in their home – they kill coyotes too – they see a dog as a rival for their home range.


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