Category Archive 'Cat Urbigkit'

08 Jun 2022

Film Crew Visits Cat Urbigkit

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Cat Urbigkit operates a sheep ranch in Western Wyoming. She has imported a variety of guardian dogs, particularly exotic Central Asian breeds, to protect her flocks from wolves. And she frequently blogs about her adventures.

Recently, Cat reluctantly allowed a film company to visit, and she describes amusingly the interesting time she had preventing the urban-based film crew members from getting eaten by her dogs. Those are big, strong dogs.

This year, we were contacted by a production company working on a science-based series focused on the intersection of people and predators. I liked what seemed to be their honest curiosity about the issue and its complexities, and we agreed to host the film crew. Their visit coincided with our lambing season, and my family scrambled to have all the ranch work covered while my time would be spent with the visitors.

I met with the first two crew members to explain what to expect. As they drove into the lambing grounds, if a lamb suddenly jumped up and ran toward their vehicle, please stop, shut off the vehicle and wait for a ewe to retrieve the lamb.

That happened numerous times, as newborn lambs, startled by the sudden stimuli, raced toward the moving object. While the crew stopped and waited, ewes approached to claim their babies, giving an opportunity for filming the close bond and communication between lambs and their mothers.

I also explained that the sudden presence of a group of people approaching the lambing flock would not been seen by the livestock guardian dogs as a welcome presence, but as a threat or intrusion in the otherwise tranquil landscape.

The last time a film crew came to the ranch, a videographer tried to follow behind a guardian dog while holding a large piece of recording equipment low to the ground, getting a dog-level view. The dog, Panda, had barked and warned the guy to back off, but when he persisted, I had to quickly step in as the enraged dog wheeled around to take out the equipment.

I shared that story with the new film crew, so they were careful enough with Panda, but when one filmmaker tried a similar maneuver with guardian dog Harriet, I once again had to jump in front of the filming to intercept Harriet as she lunged to take down the equipment stalking her. {For the record, Harriet’s full name is Harriet the Horrible, and she suffers no fools among her flock with its newborn lambs.}

It quickly became apparent that Panda still held a grudge against film crews, so I ended up driving him to our camp where he was tethered away from the visitors. Harriet generally sulked amid her sheep, tolerating the crew since I was present. The other dogs either watched from scattered locations in the brush with their sheep, or left to chase coyotes.


11 Mar 2020

Paintball that Griz!

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Is Old Ephraim hanging about your backyard? Cat Urbigkit, in Cowboy State Daily, shares some new guidance from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Got a grizzly bear hanging out near the house? Fire up that paintball gun and give it a go! U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has confirmed that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has issued new guidance on actions the public can take to haze grizzly bears that may pose a threat to human safety.

According to a letter Bernhardt sent to Montana’s Congressional delegation, “These actions include the use of paintballs, noise-making projectiles, and visual deterrents.”

While I’ve wickedly fantasized about paintballing well-dressed float fishermen passing underneath a bridge on the New Fork River, I didn’t know how small and lacking my daydream was. I should have dreamed bigger; grizzly sized dreams.

FWS quickly issued the new guidance, which includes methods that are allowed to deter grizzlies away from the immediate vicinity (200 yards) of a human-occupied residence or potential conflict area, such as a barn, livestock corral, chicken coop, grain bin, or schoolyard. In addition to using paintballs, also allowed is the use of stones or marbles, either thrown or sent out of a slingshot.

When you mention the Yellowstone region’s grizzly bear population, most people think of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, and the federal parkway that connects the two. But WG&F large carnivore staff report that the grizzly population’s occupied range includes more than 7,000 square miles of private property. That’s more private property within occupied grizzly bear range than the two national parks and parkway combined.

Let’s hope the irritated bear doesn’t charge.


20 Aug 2019

“A Varied and Valuable Tool”

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Cat Urbigkit writes books and raises sheep and Hereford cattle in Sublette County in Western Wyoming. If you raise sheep, wolves are a serious problem. Cat has also occasionally run into human predators and she consequently look upon guns as essential tools.

I continue to renew my [concealed carry] permit when it comes due, even though most of the time I openly carry a firearm– because I keep guns in my work truck as a rancher. I’m a woman who works alone outside on most days in a remote region that is home to numerous large carnivores, so yes, I am armed.

Firearms are valuable tools in my life, just as necessary as standard fencing pliers, rope, an assortment of gloves made from leather, cotton, and wool, and the ever-present shovel.

My firearm use is a result of my personal journey. As I became more proficient with each gun, and we have changes in our lives and on the ranch, my need for various types of firearms and calibers changes. Much as the case of our shovel collection.

Living on a ranch, we have numerous types and styles of shovels: plastic shovels to push snow off our steps; strong but lightweight shovels strapped onto snowmachines; short, narrow shovels to dig up weeds; wide, curved shovels for firefighting; manure shovels; and traditional wooden-handled shovels in every ranch truck. Each shovel is best-suited for specific tasks, as each firearm we wield.

I’m disappointed to listen to national news media talk about gun ownership in America as though it were an alien idea. Interviews with gun owners are rare, and tend to involve either members of the gun lobby, or people at a shooting range – both of which are members of our “gun culture,” but neither of which are representative of the varied users of guns in America.

When major media in our nation talk about guns, the discussion involves speakers in metropolitan areas, usually after a horrendous tragedy. They aren’t airing interviews of people who take their children out with gundogs to hunt birds; elk hunters preparing for mountain trips they’ve dreamed about for years; former military members who enjoy competitive shooting sports; women who train to never become victims; gun collectors dedicated to preserving history; or ranchers who use firearms as tools, to name a few.

Our stories may be alien to those who haven’t shared the same life journeys, but they are the stories of American gun ownership. In a way it’s no wonder we don’t hear our stories in national media. With the current gun debate so narrowly defined, what gun owner would be willing to be interviewed by a national network or news outlet? The risks are great: nuances will be missed; statements can be taken out of context for a soundbite; and the internet backlash/cyber bullying by cowards with keyboards is nearly guaranteed.

We’ve become the silent majority.

It always amazes me that urban nincompoops in New York and other big cities, who know absolutely nothing about guns, are perfectly prepared to offer detailed regulatory schemes affecting people like Cat Urbigkit living in the remote wilds of Wyoming.

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