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’s will utilize 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 is 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 Wood River Wolf Project will provide sheep producers with field support to detect and deter wolves during the June-October grazing season. Nonlethal wolf deterring methods will be used, such as electric fencing with flags attached, range riders, livestock guarding dogs, and nonlethal ammunition. The project will also present an annual training workshop for ranchers to provide them with demonstrations and instruction on the use of various nonlethal tools, as well as establish a loan system that provides fencing deterrents, alarm systems, remote cameras, and other tools. To include the largest portion of the local population as possible, Defenders of Wildlife will develop and distribute an instruction guide in Spanish explaining the purpose and best practices for utilizing these tools.
Defenders of Wildlife’s goal is ultimately to expand the use of these nonlethal deterrents to more than 2,000 square-miles. In addition, these techniques may be adapted to other regions where similar conflicts threaten the survival of predators.
“These stakeholders have often had difficult, even hostile relationships with conservation organizations for many reasons including distrust of the groups’ real objectives and a dislike of ‘outsiders’ interfering with their ranching practices,” Suzanne Stone, director of Defenders’ wolf coexistence programs, explained. As a member of the 1995/1996 USA-Canadian wolf reintroduction team, Stone, who is based in Defenders’ Boise office, brings experience and perspective to the challenge of forging collaborations. “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”