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Keep Them Dogies Rollin’

 Ashley Ahearn, left, interviews Melanie Elzinga. Both women are on horseback. Sagebrush litters the foreground and smoky foothill are off in the distance behind them.
Louise Johns
Ashley Ahearn, left, interviews Melanie Elzinga on horseback.

Wolves have long been one of the most controversial animals in the west.

For some, they symbolize a healthy, intact ecosystem with an apex predator. For others, they represent a threat to livestock and livelihood.

Many ranchers would just as soon see them shot if they could. But not the Elzingas.

The wolves that roam the rangelands where they graze their cattle in central Idaho have cost the family thousands of dollars. But instead of getting trigger happy, the family turned to one of the oldest ways of tending their animals.

Every summer they ride the range with their cows, day in and day out. Thankfully, there are seven daughters to help with the task.

And this new form of grazing, or inherding as it’s called, is providing ecological benefits that you have to see to believe.

Ashley heads into the high country to ride the range with the Elzingas and find out what goes into this style of livestock management – and what comes out, in terms of healthy cattle, a healthy landscape and a healthy bottom line.

A transcript of this episode is available.