Problems with trying to do a working ranch
In a recreational area
The concept of partnership between the rancher and the open space department is ideal, but perhaps tough to work out the "devil is in the details" part.
In a hypothetical sense, the idea that cows, bikes, cars, prairie dogs, horses, haying equipment, voice and sight dogs could "peacefully coexist" is mostly an "ideal." The reality is quite different.
The horses and bikes have conflict on the uphill and downhill nature of trails. Bikes zooming downhill have damaged horses on the system, and produce issues on multi-use trails. The empty prairie dog holes collapse under the weight of horses, bikes and human beings resulting in falls, broken legs and horses that have to be put down because of it.
This little calve did not know any better when he tried to cross this cattle "resistant" cattle guard and broke his leg. Normally this little guy would have lost his life, but was adopted by a family that will watch out for him. When a cow grows to full maturity with a deformity like this can make it impossible for it to do what it needs to do which is "make his living on his feet.")
On a typical Saturday and Sunday at the Sage trail in North Boulder this is the parking situation. You can see that the horse crossing sign is readily evident, yet people turn around in the middle of the road and block the road. If an emergency vehicle needed to go down to the ranch, it would be impossible to get through.
Now, added to this chaos is construction on the North Trail Study Left Hand Trail which has construction vehicles currently parked on the side of the road. You add a few rattlesnakes crawling across the road, and prairie dog pups trying to cross the road and you have the makings for a lot of problems!
Rarely do you see the dogs which be complaint with the voice and sight rules on this ranch. The other day, I found only one couple out of all the people out there for three hours who were complaint. When I take my own dog out, although she is trained to leave prairie dogs and other critters alone, the temptation is too much and she pulls hard on my leash trying to sniff the holes.
The dogs off leash that chase the cattle maim them by running them into prairie dog holes, or biting their legs. The dogs run around the ranch and get lost in the pasture, separating new born calves from their mommas.
Additionally there are the people who leave their poop bags along side the trails. The small calves eat them and then die a horrible death when they explode inside their bodies.
But now, with the infestation of prairie dogs, the most real threat to the existence of the ranchers looms large. Please see next article: The real agricultural conflicts.
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