6/30/18

Working Akbash encounter hikers in Colorado

This article is about Akbash working in Colorado. LGDs are being used more often in the U.S., both in the sheep's grazing pastures in the mountains and in their lowland winter homes (the transhumance process). 

However, most Americans have no idea what LGDs are. When hikers on the Colorado mountain trails encounter LGDs and sheep in pastures that happen to be near hiking trails, trouble can ensue.

This article is informative and makes a good point:

If you love the Great Outdoors, the chances are good that you are environmentally conscious.

Instead of being 'put out,' that an encounter with one of these dogs has altered your day, revel in the fact that the rancher thought to use an LGD. 

It’s the 'green' approach to predator control, and if you’re serious about your commitment to the environment, be glad to see the dog.

Here's more from the article (the underlining is mine for emphasis):

First, for heaven’s sake, keep calm, don’t disturb or frighten the livestock. In short, don’t be an idiot.

As recreational areas continue to expand closer to ranches, encounters between hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, and cross country skiers are increasing. 

In Colorado, for example, Akbash Dogs have been acquired to guard sheep herds around Silverton and other high-mountain towns, particularly along popular Continental Divide trails.

Contracts with ranchers who have grazing permits specify that their herds need to be at least a quarter-mile from the Colorado and Continental Divide trails, and if their animals are closer, the U.S. Forest Service can take away the  permits, but this doesn’t help if a hiker goes off trail.

Nor does it help when hikers who’ve met snarling dogs throw rocks or raise their walking sticks and wave them at the dogs thinking it will deter them. The dogs merely see the behavior as aggression and do what it take to protect their flock. They attack.

Hikers have described such dogs as aggressive. We don’t agree. We think that backcountry recreationists need to be better informed on how to conduct themselves when encountering LGD, even when both dog and recreationist is surprised to see each other.

Click here to see the whole article: do-you-know-how-to-behave-around-an-lgd-at-work.

Click here to read another article about LGDs and hikers in Colorado:  guard-dogs-continue-to-frighten-hikers-on-high-mountain-trails.

Also see this video about LGDs in the Alps.

The Continental Divide in the western U.S.
Silverton, Colorado, is in the San Juan mountain range within the Rocky Mountains in the U.S.