Ranchers move herd after wolves kill cow
CHICO, Calif. - After they say wolves killed five of their cows in west Lassen County, two ranchers decided to move their herd to Chico sooner than planned.
The only kill the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed happened October 13, but GPS data and eyewitness reports place the Lassen wolf pack near the other dead cattle.
"The Lassen wolf pack decided that our cattle were for dinner," Billie Roney said. She and her husband own Roney Land and Cattle Company.
They have hundreds of cows, but Roney said that didn't make seeing one mauled by a wolf any less devastating. "I didn't sleep for a week and I'd wake up and I was yelling, angry."
She's angry at the state's 2016 Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves that prevents the Roneys from killing the endangered species to protect their livestock. "My feelings, my thoughts, my business, my checkbook," Roney said. "Everything that I do is just collateral damage."
She also added that though the Department of Fish and Wildlife did offer them assistance to keep the wolves away, they felt their options were inconsistent with proper herding.
"The Department of Fish and Wildlife, the folks that are working with the wolves, are not livestock people. They claim that they've got tools and ideas and things that work with livestock, but not if you love your cattle, not if understand animal husbandry," Roney explained.
Because of this, the Roneys moved their livestock to their 7,000 acre ranch in north Chico earlier than usual. They don't plan to return them to Lassen County as long as the wolves are still there. They usually bring the cows to that land every summer, but now they're looking at other, safer options.
Their cattle are used for beef, but the rancher said she makes sure they're protected and cared for their entire lives.
"My job is to make sure that those cattle are treated humanely, and treated with all the love I've got for them so that all of their lives are good," Roney said. "Mother Nature is really cruel and as Temple Grandin used to say, we don't have to be."