LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Natural predators

Dear Editor: 

Several years ago we spent summers in Durango, Colo., (6,500 ft.) using our modified Jeep Wrangler to explore the Rocky Mountains and the Mohave Desert. 

We drove up the mountain to Silverton, Colo., (9,300 ft.) then continued into the mountains near the mine (12,000 ft.) which was recently in the news. This mine was the source of bright yellow, poisonous fluid which accidentally began to flow into the rivers. 

In the distance we saw spectacular lightning strikes among beautiful cloud formations illuminate the sky like a million strobe lights. In the valley, a large flock of sheep were grazing with two large dogs herding them. 

As we stood enjoying the view, suddenly and quietly we were joined by a tall, fierce-looking dog about 140 pounds and 32 inches tall, standing quietly, looking us over. We later learned he was a large Turkish livestock guardian dog called an Akbash. For many years only the herders stood between their sheep and predators until the fearless canine of Turkish origin were used to herd the sheep. 

When protecting their flock, the Akbash don't back down in the fact of potential trouble. In many cases, loss to predators was cut 60%-70% thanks to guard dogs. Before dogs were used, one rancher one time lost 13 sheep to bears in a single night. The main predators are bear and coyotes. 

For us, this trip was very exciting. 

Byron Dillon