Reducing Wolf and Livestock Mortality
Wolf restoration in the Northern Rockies is among the most widely-acclaimed achievements in modern conservation history, but it is also among the most controversial. Current concerns, primarily surrounding threats to livestock, require a constructive and respectful approach.
Defenders of Wildlife utilized a TogetherGreen Innovation Grant to reduce unnecessary wolf and livestock mortality by promoting better wildlife and agricultural management practices in a 120 square-mile stretch in the heart of Idaho’s ranching country. The Wood River Wolf Project was designed to not just help reduce control of wolves by deadly force, but also to meet the needs of ranchers, landowners, and livestock producer.
The organization provided sheep producers with alternative ways to detect and deter wolves from their pastures during the June-October grazing season. The non-lethal methods that Defenders of Wildlife advocated for include electric fencing with flags, range riders, guard dogs, increased human presence and nonlethal ammunition. They also promoted new methods of husbandry that would encourage coexistence between sheep and wolves. Defenders of Wildlife hosted ranchers from across the country at their carnivore and livestock management workshop, teaching them about these non-lethal methods and presenting data from successful case studies.
Suzanne Stone, director of Defenders’ wolf coexistence programs, explained, “It requires trust building, fact-based information sharing, and advocating common sense approaches to resolving conflicts…and a lot of patience. These ranchers and their ability to demonstrate the success of these techniques may hold the key to making coexistence between wolves and people possible in the West” The program has made incredible strides in reducing wolf killings and has been featured on a number of national news outlets, including NPR and Public News Network.