Idaho's rangelands are a great playground for outdoor recreationists, and they're also an important workplace for ranchers. There is plenty of room on Idaho's rangelands for all of us if we take care of the land and treat each other with respect.
The Care/Share program, created by IRRC in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Lands and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, has been successful in educating recreationists about how to interact with livestock on public lands.
Here's the Care & Share video from our award-winning outreach project, Life on the Range, about Care/Share cooperative projects in two heavily used recreation areas in Idaho -- the Boise Foothills and the Wood River Valley.
As IRRC Executive Director Gretchen Hyde says in the video, "Most recreationists have no problem seeing livestock on public lands, but they're kind of confused as to what to do when they have that interaction."
Tips for dog-walkers, hikers, runners and mountain bikers:
- Be sure to close gates when you pass through.
- Leash your dog(s) when hiking or biking around sheep or cattle. White Great Pyrenees guard dogs are a non-lethal way to protect domestic sheep herds from predators. If people allow their dogs to run free and chase sheep, the guard dogs will see that as a threat and likely attack the dog or chase it away. Keep your pet on a leash and avoid conflicts with guard dogs.
- Get off your mountain bike when passing through a group of sheep and walk the bike to avoid conflicts with guard dogs or herding dogs. It works! See Jim Giuffre's comments in the Care/Share video (Jim's interview begins at 3:20).
- Pull off to the side of the trail if you see sheep herders on horseback or pack stock coming up the trail and let the pack stock travel through. Horses and mules can spook easily when confronted by strangers. Talk to the herders to let the horses and mules know that you're human.
- Consider using alternative trails if you wish to avoid areas where livestock are present.