Non-lethal Predator Control
This is one of Katy and Richard Harjes’ Maremma sheepdogs, guarding the flock at their Willow Spring Ranch north of Bozeman. The Harjeses employ Maremma and akbash dogs to guard their sheep against predation. The Humane Society of the United States assigned me to make these pictures for an upcoming story they’re running in the March/April 2012 issue of All Animals, their bi-monthly membership magazine. I hear the story is about coyote predation in the U.S. and different ways of controlling it. These dogs scare predators away more often than not, teaching the coyote, wolf or bear to look elsewhere for an easy meal.
Reading up on the breeds before my visit, I expected the dogs to be all business and very protective of their flock. They are, Richard Harjes says, but he and Katy went to some extra trouble to make them more friendly with people. So although Richard or Katy had to introduce me to the dogs and I needed to meet them in the early evening when they are most playful (and about to be fed), once introduced, the dogs were very friendly. And then, as the sun fell ever lower, the dogs became less and less playful and affectionate. They became instead more and more vigilant and protective. Ever watchful, barking and running at the slightest smell or sound.
They were incredible.