The difference grazing cattle makes at the end of the season

Comparison of two sites, Nov. 4, 2009, in the Mink Creek drainage south of Pocatello, Idaho-

Mink Creek is a popular recreation area on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, just south of Pocatello, Idaho. The first 3-4 miles have no livestock grazing. As the drainage gains slowly in elevation, it is grazed from about June 1 to Oct. 15 by cattle every year.

I was up there this afternoon and I took two photos (actually more than two). They certainly show the difference. The first photo is lower down in the Mink Creek drainage with no grazing for well over a decade. The second is further up, in a wetter, actually a riparian meadow next to the South Fork of Mink Creek. The second photo should have the most grass were there no grazing.

minkcr-ungrazed09

Mink Creek drainage ungrazed. Nov. 4, 2009. The green on the right is a trail. Copyright Ralph Maughan

minkcr-grazed09

This riparian meadow is directly adjacent to Mink Creek (runs in the willows). It is also higher elevation than the first photograph. Taken Nov. 4, 2009. Copyright Ralph Maughan

A cougar again on Idaho State University campus (Pocatello, ID)

This winter begins like last with cougars on campus-

The cougars haven’t harmed anyone, but, of course, their presence on campus worries people.

The following announcement came over Idaho State University email Nov. 4.

Idaho Fish and Game officials have set a cougar trap on campus after a possible sighting Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 4.  The trap is set in the area of the sighting, above the jogging trail on Red Hill above Davis Field.  Public Safety is advising people to be careful in the secluded areas of campus between  Red Hill, the cemetery and other areas.

Any sightings should immediately be reported to ISU Public Safety at 282-2515.

Cougars were in other parts of Pocatello last winter.

Why?

I have a pretty good idea. If you travel to the Caribou National Forest and the BLM lands that directly adjoin the city, with the exception of a “beauty zone” along Mink Creek, these public lands have been increasing abused by livestock grazing. There is little for the deer to eat, they come into town (indeed they sleep next to my house) where there is some pretty good forage. Of course the cougars follow.

I am increasingly of the view that we need a major push at change on range on these public lands. If any friends in Pocatello, Chubbuck or Inkom want to help with bringing grazing under control on your public land please contact me. Ralph Mauighan rmaughan2@cableone.net