Sheep affecting sage chicken population

 


Reprint of this story from the July 13, 1906 issue of The Grand Encampment Herald brought to you courtesy of Grandma’s Cabin, Encampment, Wyoming. Preserving History - Serving the Community.

Doom of Sage Hens

Cheyenne visitors to Carbon and Natrona counties, the great sage chicken breeding grounds of the state, report that young chickens are conspicuous this year by their absence, and that hunting during the coming open season will be extremely poor, unless, of course, sportsmen are content to make bags of old hens and cocks, says the Leader.

For several years there has been a steady decline in the number of sage chickens hatched in Natrona, Carbon, and other counties of the state, and the birds are decreasing in number at an alarming rate. Several reasons for this condition are apparent, chief of which is the destruction of nests and eggs by flocks of sheep. As the sheep in the state increase and cover more and more range, so are the chickens decreasing. Sage chickens nest on the ground, and their favorite nesting places are the best ranges for sheep.


Sheep, in feeding, trample the nests and eggs ruthlessly under foot, thereby destroying a large percentage of the prospective hatch. In time, it is prophesied, sheep will cause chickens to become so scarce in Wyoming that the birds will be found only in localities where sheep cannot range, and it will become necessary to declare a closed season from year’s end to year’s end to prevent the extermination of the birds.

Sheepherders also are responsible, in a minor degree, for the steady decrease in the sage chicken population. Fresh sage chicken eggs are a delicacy eagerly sought on the range, and thousands of nests are despoiled annually by egg hunters. Some herders and, beyond doubt, some hunters, destroy young sage chickens wantonly, exercising the desire to kill in violation of the restrictions placed by the game laws. Coyotes eat many eggs and chickens, displaying no discrimination between the young and old. The grubbing of sage brush lands and their reclamation for agricultural purposes is gradually restricting the chicken feed and breeding grounds.

In short, many factors combine against the sage chicken, and persons who have watched the course of affairs during the past few years can plainly foresee the time when sage chickens will be almost as scarce in Wyoming as antelope.

Minor Notes:

Mining claims sometimes have very suggestive names. We heard of a combination the other day, however, that was both striking and amusing. The company’s name was Last Hopes, the superintendent’s name was Mudd, and a recent quotation for its stock was 30 cents.

Earl Christianson, a ten-year old boy of this place, had his right arm badly fractured at the elbow Thursday by being thrown from a burro which he was riding and causing to buck for the amusement of other boys.

A freight horse belonging to Mr. Chase went through the ten mile bridge on Brush Creek a few days ago and was drowned. Probably the county will now make repairs.

New bookkeeper - How shall I enter up the five thousand dollars that our old bookkeeper ran away with – profit and loss?

Employer – No, charge it to running expenses.

 

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