July 26, 2021

U.S. Forest Service to crack down on dog attacks against sheep

RENO, Nev. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service officials in Nevada have started to crack down on its leash laws after recent reports of dogs attacking sheep used for wildfire reduction on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Officials said dogs at Whites Creek and Thomas Creek trails must be leashed within a mile of trailheads through June 30 to reduce the risk of attacks, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Carson Ranger District has deployed sheep in the Arrowcreek and Carson City areas for the last decade to reduce the amount of forest fuel that could spark wildfires. It contracts with Gardnerville-based Borda Land & Sheep Co.

The sheep are used to remove cheatgrass, a highly flammable invasive species, and other vegetation on more than 1.5 square miles south of Reno and about 500 acres west of Carson City.

However, District Fuels Specialist Steve Howell said there is at least one sheep attack a year.

“We’ve had a lot of serious issues with dogs and sheep interactions and dogs killing sheep,” he said. “Sheep will just roll over and give up. They don’t have any way to defend themselves. The herders try to keep the dogs away, but it’s not their dogs.”

Violators can face fines up to $5,000 for unleashed dogs, Howell said.

Most of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is in Nevada, with a smaller portion in eastern California.