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Killer sheepdogs and five other top terrors of the backcountry

cujo.jpg
Grrr!
Anyone thinking about abandoning the safety and comfort of the big city for a trip to Colorado's savage backcountry, take heed. Not only might you be braving the caprices of nature and the hardships of an untamed wilderness, but you could also encounter a particularly fierce breed of sheepdog.

According to this horrific account in the Durango Herald, the dreaded Akbash sheepdog from Turkey might even bark at you.

The aggressive dogs, which are increasingly being used on Forest Service lands and elsewhere on the Western Slope, apparently do a damn good job of protecting their flocks from predators. But they've managed to alarm some hikers and mountain bikers, leading officials in Silverton to fret about their impact on the tourist trade.

Mind you, there have been no accounts of people actually being mauled by these ferocious canines. The Forest Service doesn't even have any official complaints. But hikers and bicyclists have felt "intimidated" by their presence: "The dogs snarl and, according to some reports, chase them." Not exactly the same as being chased by a bear, a mountain lion, or one of the other predators the dogs are keeping at bay, but still. You can see how scary they are in this actual Forest Service photo of an Akbash.

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Up until now, we'd been thinking that the most dangerous aspects of the backcountry involved stupid drivers, bad skiers, idiot snowboarders, assholes on snowmobiles and the occasional avalanche -- not necessarily in that order. But the emergence of this Cujo of sheepdogs reminds us that almost any seemingly innocent feature of Colorado's great outdoors can be a source of terror and menace.

Here are five of the other most common (and most sinister!) hazards to be reckoned with on your next backcountry excursion:

5. Rocks

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Beware. There are more of them than there are of you. They may look harmless, even sedentary, but a mysterious force called "gravity" can send them tumbling down on top of you with no prior warning. Tragically, sometimes they are aided in this activity by clueless hikers trundling boulders off cliffs with no idea of what (or who) is in harm's way.

4. Trees

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Trees can fall on you, too. But they are far more likely to exert an inexplicable magnetic force that seems to attract speeding, out-of-control skiers and can lead to a fatal collision. Precautions can help, such as wearing a helmet and slowing down, but the startling rate of tree-person encounters suggests that many recreationalists prefer brain damage and possible death to being boring.

Page down to see our top three backcountry terrors.



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14 comments
Martine
Martine

Well said Alan. It all comes down to common sense. Be aware of one's surroundings. Do not blow through a bunch of livestock on your bike - hell, even livestock could take a stand - the sheep could smother you in lanolin. Livestock protection dogs will bark at you, it is their 1st line of defense. Even urban dogs will bark at you when you pass them by on their turf. And like 'Straughie' wrote, you can be completely assured that there are no predators around if that white dog is there. And I am willing to bet you have a better chance of being charged by a bear than coming across one of these dogs that are simply doing a honest day's work. Respect them, they will respect your calm, assertive, non-threatening attitude.

Tripletranchbgt
Tripletranchbgt

Lets introduce some wolves up there, mabe they will take care of the dogs like they do all the wild life.and they are pretty and safe to be around.This should please all the spandex,Obamaite,Idiots.

Achef37
Achef37

While folks in Colorado may have all these terrorist dogs threatening the kool-aid drinking Obamalover flower children hiking & biking...Sounds like we could use some of these dogs in California.  Get rid of all these eco-wacko's from the bay area and the hipsters from L.A. ruining Yosemite Valley and other grazing land...remember ranchers & farmers = food.

Anatolian's friend
Anatolian's friend

I have an Akbash(white face)  Anatolian shepherd. There are also Karabash(black face) Anatolians. The breed originates from the Anatolian plains of Turkey. They are naturally very territorial and protective. They are particularly valuable protecting sheep, goats and llamas.   I have never heard of a single attack on a human, by this breed. Their unique value is their ability to intimidate predators without having to fight. They are very independent and think for themselves. They can not be trained to be a dog that will attack on command. Anyone finding themselves encountering one of these dogs on public lands is probably too close to a herd that has a grazing lease. Mind your business and they will not attack, but don't be surprised if they effectively convince you to keep your distance from the herd they are likely protecting. The author writes in unfortunate ignorance.

Straughie
Straughie

If you see an Akbash dog on the trail be very happy as you can be sure there is no cougar, coyote, wolf or bear nearby.

Dogluver
Dogluver

Wouldn't it be terrible if some rogue akbash bit a trespassong mountain biker right in his Spandex-clad ass?

Nycdha
Nycdha

I used to have an Akbash..They are the most courageous, loving..and yes protective dogs ...I met some people in the USA who had sheep..goats herd and could not deal with wolfs,jackal, bear etc..till they happen to get an..or a pair of Akbash...Please watch the video to see what they are like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Janner Walsh
Janner Walsh

I have an Akbash.  He is the sweetest, calmest, most bomb-proof dog I've ever had.  Plus, he has a GREAT sense of humor.  I'd ask him to chase a hiker, but that would be asking him to exert energy, which apparently is against and Akbash's religion.

eldaveablo
eldaveablo

No mention of unlicensed jerky dealers or jackalopes? Where is the investigative reporting Denver needs? 

Xxx
Xxx

Let's not forget all those tourist places where you can buy saltwater taffy.  Do you have any idea what that stuff does to your teeth?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Like the post, Martine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

SpeakForYourself
SpeakForYourself

you do realize that not every conservative is fat and lazy like you and that enjoy nature isn't a political ideal at all, right?

wait, no. you clearly don't.

Nycdha
Nycdha

I used to have an Akbash..They are the most courageous, loving..and yes protective dogs ...I met some people in the USa who had sheep..goats herd and could not deal with wolfs,jackal, bear etc..till they happen to get an..or a pair of Akbash... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

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