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(DLM8317) - Sheepherder Lucho Hurtado Aylas, 38, heads out to his flock from the camper where he lives as he spends months and months following 1,500 sheep as they graze on the thousands of acres of federal lands near Montrose, Colo. One of Aylas jobs is to protect the flock from predators. In addition to sheepherders like Aylas, sheep rancher Ernie Etchart also uses several other tactics to protect the sheep including guard dogs, traps and poisons.Several environmental groups have started a petition to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to prohibit the use of M44's, a type of trap that kills predators with a charge that fires sodium cyanide into a predators mouth, skin and eyes. Etchart said it is just one of the tools that he uses to protect his flock, but that at times, particularly during lambing season, predation can be devastating so he needs as many options as he can get. (DARIN MCGREGOR/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS) **Ernie Etchart (cq) **Lucho Hurtado Aylas (Ernie) *******One of Dean's Picks****************

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