AVON — A young Avon area rancher is recovering from injuries received while attempting to haze wolves away from his family’s calving pens.
On the morning of March 19, after breakfast, the Price family observed four wolves within 200 yards of the house, near the heifer calving pen. With two-foot deep snow and drifts four-feet high, the only way to get to the field was by snowmobile or horse.
Lynn Price’s son, Thomas, 18, went out on a snowmobile to haze them. As he neared the wolves, the machine hit a snow bank and he somersaulted off. When Thomas tried to stand up, he collapsed, but was able to call his dad on a cell phone.
John Paul and Lynn drove the four-wheel-drive tractor to go help him. Thomas was taken to the hospital in Helena, an hour’s drive, where it was determined he had a broken jaw and compressed spinal fracture. It will be six to eight weeks before his jaws are unwired and the back brace removed. He won’t be able to return to his job for some time.
Lynn says almost every night the family hears the wolves howling, and while it isn’t practical to spend 24-hours a day with the cattle, someone checks on them frequently throughout the night.
Kraig Glazier, western district wildlife director with the Department of Agriculture, said a federal trapper confirmed wolves were running cattle at the Price ranch, and their presence caused four calves to be trampled and another has a broken leg and may not survive.
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The situation has caused much frustration for the Price family, which, like other ranchers, is busy calving while tending their cows and helping calves survive.
“It isn’t just the paycheck,” Lynn Price said, “we care for our animals day after day and often get quite attached to them.”
Glazier said there are at least three wolf packs in the Avon area, and they are investigating a wolf kill on another ranch.
Correspondent Pat Hansen may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.