Livestock, Humans and Wolves..... 
Co-existence is key!more-livestock/c1cxd

Reposted from

This Montana cattle ranch is trying to ensure its operations benefit wildlife—and yes, that means wolves, too.

BY ALISA OPAR | @ALISAOPAR | 6 hours ago

On a cool, sunny May morning, Hilary Zaranek set out on horseback from her log house in southwestern Montana with one thing on her mind: wolves.

Zaranek lives in the Centennial Valley, an immense expanse of grass- and wetlands ringed by the ragged peaks of the Centennial and Gravelly mountain ranges. The handful of people, mostly ranchers, who call this place home are vastly outnumbered by animals. Trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes are among the more than 260 bird species that inhabit the sweeping landscape, along with river otters, deer, elk, and, of course, loads of cattle. As grizzly and gray wolf populations have recovered in Yellowstone National Park (about 20 miles away), predators have been joining the ranks in increasing numbers, too.

Cattle ranchers have traditionally been hostile to large carnivores; wolves were nearly hunted, trapped, and poisoned to extinction in the Lower 48 a few decades ago, due in part to the threat they posed to livestock. Zaranek, who has done wolf research in Yellowstone and Canada and now works for the Centennial Valley Association, is trying to ease that relationship. She is testing whether range riders on horseback and ATV can minimize conflicts between livestock and predators.

Zaranek and two other riders she oversees are looking out for cattle from a half-dozen ranches in the area, including the J Bar L, a 30,000-acre operation where her husband works.

These cowboys, who all happen to be women, are just one of the ways J Bar L is trying to manage its grass-fed beef operation to benefit livestock, people, wildlife, and habitat. To figure out how best to do that, the ranch works with numerous partners, including NRDC (disclosure), the Nature Conservancy, and the Sage Grouse Initiative. Scientists are studying, for instance, whether structures that mimic beaver dams, installed to rehabilitate stream channels, may benefit Arctic grayling, a rare native fish that sports flamboyant, turquoise-spotted dorsal fins. And on two greater sage grouse leks, biologists are investigating what factors enable populations of these iconic—and possibly soon-to-be-endangered—birds to nest successfully.

But the ranch’s primary focus is moving the herd along in a way that mimics how bison once roamed: regularly rotating grazing to allow pastures to recover for months or even years between munching sessions, and ensuring the animals don’t cause lasting harm to sensitive areas, like springs and leks. As the herd chomps along, the ranchers put up portable, wildlife-friendly electric fences to keep them from wandering.

“People are willing to pay a premium for sustainably raised beef,” says J Bar L Ranch general manager Bryan Ulring. Last year, through Yellowstone Grassfed Beef, the ranch sold about 145,000 pounds of meat (or roughly 600,000 servings) to consumers across the country.


Despite the throwback to bison behavior, this is a thoroughly modern approach. Ranchers have traditionally turned out their cattle to graze largely unattended. But with predators rebounding, J Bar L and other operations in the Centennial Valley and Tom Miner Basin are taking a different tack, relying on Zaranek and the other range riders to patrol herds and keep an eye out for sick, injured, and dead animals. They also gather and settle cattle in the evening, part of an ongoing effort to rekindle the herd instinct. The mere presence of humans acts as a deterrent against attacks, Zaranek says.

Animals go missing from ranches for a slew of reasons, including predation, poisonous plants, lightning (yes, really), and brisket disease, which can cause heart failure in cows at high altitudes. The riders help get to the bottom of what’s causing deaths and disappearances out on the range because, as Zaranek says, “You can’t make good management decisions based on myth.”

That’s why she was out early that May morning, scouting for predator activity in the days before thousands of cattle would arrive for the summer. Grizzlies, of which five or six roam the valley, killed one calf last summer, as well as an adult cow—no small feat considering the bear likely weighed half as much as the 1,400 pound ungulate. This time, Zaranek saw evidence of wolves. “I found a really great hot spot,” she says while we sit at her kitchen table the day after the recon mission. “There were tons of tracks.” She says it looks like there may be three packs carving out territory in the valley this year, up from two in 2014.  

Wolf pups in Yellowstone National Park

Last year, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana were home to an estimated 1,657 wolves in 263 packs with a total of 75 breeding pairs, according to the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Program.
The canids were confirmed as the killers of 140 cattle, 172 sheep, 4 dogs, a horse, and a donkey. Private and state agencies shelled out almost $275,000 in compensation for wolves damaging livestock. Wolves died, too, of course—ranchers and wildlife managers culled 161 of them for coming into conflict with livestock or other wildlife.

Rekindling the herd instinct is key to protecting cattle from wolf and grizzly attacks, says J Bar L Ranch general manager Ulring. He points to how the range riders encourage cattle to move as a herd and stick together, rather than run and scatter, when carnivores draw near—the old safety-in-numbers approach employed by animals ranging from bison to walruses to fish. Since J Bar L first started using range riders a few years ago, it hasn’t lost a single animal to predation when herds stay intact.

“Even last year, when we had cattle right by an active wolf den, we didn’t lose any,” says Ulring. “Cattle or wolves.” They used electric fencing to keep the herd tight and the wolves outside the perimeter.

“This is not just about dead animals,” says Ulring. “A stressed animal has minimal weight gain or can even lose weight. Our animals, even when they were near that den, they’re gaining more than three pounds a day.” All that extra poundage translates into dollars, allowing the ranch to sell more steaks and burgers.

“These techniques are proactive rather than reactive, so they prevent conflicts from happening in the first place,” says Zack Strong, a wildlife advocate with NRDC. Along with conservation strategies, NRDC helps J Bar L and other ranches purchase equipment and hire range riders (and even lends a hand with the electric fencing).  

The approach may very well be a selling point, too. John Marzluff, a University of Washington biologist, is launching a statewide poll to gauge whether people would pay more for predator-friendly beef. “We’re also working with some stores to test-market it,” he told MotherBoard.


Researcher Azzurra Valerio of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University says she isn’t surprised to hear of the program’s success. Ranchers taking similar steps elsewhere in the West report fewer losses, too: the Blackfoot Challenge, in northwestern Montana, for instance, has seen a 93 percent drop in grizzly bear conflicts since it started using range riders and other deterrents in 2003. But Valerio cautions that although there are a lot of stories and anecdotes of livestock and predator harmony, “to my knowledge, there are no evaluations of the efficacy of nonlethal methods such as range riders or fences.” She hopes to change that.

Valerio is in the second year of a three-year study that aims to collect hard data; she’s got collars on six wolf packs, eight cattle herds, and one sheep operation, and is working with four range riders and three sheepherders. Valerio is looking at the number of livestock killed and the indirect influences wolves may have on a flock, such as weight loss and reproductive rates. Her findings, however, won’t be in for a few years.

Zaranek, too, speaks cautiously about the effort. “There’s a lot of potential,” but it’s still very new, she says. Rather than basing success on the number of cattle killed—or not—by predators, Zaranek uses another metric: the number of ranchers who say yes and stick with it. It won’t matter whether the measures work if nobody is willing to take a chance. So far, no one has dropped out.  

Reposted from Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Weekly Wrap Up 
~ August 15. 2014:


Blaine County Idaho, the heart of wolf country and the location of Defenders’ Wood River Wolf Project,
is taking a stand in favor of non-lethal wolf control. This week, news surfaced that Blaine County Commissioner, Larry Schoen, is asking that his county use non-lethal methods to prevent livestock-wolf conflict wherever possible before lethal methods are used. 

Wolf Control Mulled in Hailey Ranch Purchase

July 31, 2014 2:00 am 
HAILEY • Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers and Blaine County officials are mulling over how to deal with conflicts between wolves and livestock on a 16-square-mile property set aside for conservation.

Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said the county’s request to make lethal predator control measures a last resort on the 10,394-acre Rock Creek Ranch was a “deal-breaker.”

Blaine County Commission Chairman Larry Schoen said the county wants lethal control measures — often used when wolves kill grazing sheep or livestock — only to be used when required non-lethal deterrents fail. Schoen said the county is trumpeting the idea — which would be a first on similar Fish and Game-managed properties — to set a statewide example for best grazing management practices.

The two agencies are in negotiations to split the cost of buying the ranch — once appraised at more than $13.4 million — from the Wood River Land Trust for $2.2 million to turn it into a Fish and Game-managed Wildlife Management Area. The ranch stretches along a dirt road that begins at Croy Canyon Road, west of Hailey, and ends at U.S. 20.

The Rinker family recently donated more than $7.4 million in land value by selling the ranch to the Land Trust in a deal aided by The Nature Conservancy. After negotiations with Blaine County finish, Fish and Game would hold the title to the land and bear the costs of managing it.

The land has 10,000 acres of grazing allotments, 31 cubic-feet-per-second of water rights, 24 miles of fishable streams and 89 miles of riparian habitat. It is home to sage grouse, pygmy rabbits and serves as wintering and transition range for deer, elk and antelope.

Before selling the property, the Rinker family created a $3.8 million Natural Resources Conservation Service Grassland Reserve Program easement over the land.

“That has these specific requirements, such as no developments, requirement of grazing, wildlife habitat is predominant in terms of management and other such conditions related to motorized access,” said Gregg Servheen, Fish and Game wildlife program coordinator.

The ranch has more than 10,000 acres of forage, Servheen said, and cattle are grazing there. Schoen said the county wants to see grazing continue there.

At a mid-July meeting, where the Fish and Game Commission approved releasing its $1.1 million obligation, Moore stressed that the commission isn’t tied to financing the property with Blaine County.

Should the county not budge on its requests, Moore said Fish and Game could call off the deal or find a new purchase partner. The department would “in no way ever require the permitted lessee for grazing to be mandated on any form of protecting their property relative to predation,” he said.

“We know those are unacceptable conditions and there is no reason for you (the commission) to ever consider them and wait on them (Blaine County officials),” Moore said.

Since then, Servheen said the two sides have been successfully negotiating to find a middle ground. Schoen agreed, saying he was sure the two would come to an agreement soon.

Fish and Game is more agreeable, Servheen said, to encouraging non-lethal deterrents as part of the purchase and requiring those methods under the grazing permitting process it would gain control of after the sale. Fish and Game managers want flexibility, and writing non-lethal measures into a purchase agreement, as requested, would be too restrictive, he said.

Magic Valley Commissioner Mark Doerr said at the mid-July meeting in Salmon, “As a commission, we don’t want to tie our hands on the management of a piece of property to language that we don’t use anywhere else in Idaho and — only because it is in Blaine County — make it exclusive.”

When asked why the county should be treated differently, Schoen said, “The answer is really simple — Blaine County citizens are chipping in $1.1 million for the creation of this wildlife management area.”

That money would come from a 2008 Blaine County voter-approved $3.2 million land, water and wildlife conservation levy, Schoen said. Those funds are overseen by a levy board, which forwarded its requests to Fish and Game.

“The levy board wants to see all wildlife valued and wants to see deterrents as best practice on the property with that kind of investment,” Schoen said. “It is not policy in Idaho today, and I have been very involved at the state level trying to see deterrents incorporated into state policy.”

Across the state last year, wolves killed a record number of livestock — 39 cattle and 404 sheep. In Fish and Game’s Southern Mountain area, which includes the Wood River Valley and parts of Blaine County, wolves killed 23 cattle and 146 sheep.

Schoen used Defenders of Wildlife’s Wood River Wolf project as an example that wolf deterrents work in the wolf-heavy area. The project helps fund deterrents if requested by ranchers and is currently focused on sheep grazing allotments north of Ketchum.

From 2010 through mid-2014, Defenders spent $230,000 on the project, which protected between 10,000 and 27,000 sheep annually grazing in the Sawtooth National Forest while losing only 25 sheep in the past six years, said Defenders’ Suzanne Stone.

“Just like with other agricultural practices, they start with a new idea and people learn how to use them effectively and they eventually become adopted as a best management practice,” Schoen said.

** This story has been corrected to clarify that Blaine County is requesting lethal control measures be a last resort at Rock Creek Ranch.
Copyright 2014 Twin Falls Times-News. 

This is a huge paradigm shift for the state of Idaho, which for too long has simply relied on killing wolves to reduce potential conflict with livestock. Non-lethal solutions, like the ones we employ on our Wood River Wolf Project, are often cheaper and more sustainable long-term than lethal control. We are thrilled to see this management model start to take hold more broadly in Idaho. Keep up the good work, Blaine County!

There is NO need to resort to lethal means of wolf control in order to save sheep and cattle. Our friends with Wood River Wolf Project are proving that co-existence is indeed possible and it is highly effective.
Thank you to @yellowstonecountry and Defenders of Wildlife @defenders


Credit: Mike di Donato/KTVB
by Karen Zatkulak Follow: @KTVBKaren
Posted on June 17, 2014 at 6:03 PM
Updated Tuesday, Jun 17 at 6:09 PM

BLAINE COUNTY -- This year Idaho will spend $400,000 to reduce its wolf population.
A group of conservationists in Blaine County believe they have the non-lethal answer to the issue that will satisfy ranchers and wildlife advocates.

About 20 people gathered Tuesday to learn methods like fladdry -- non lethal ways to deal with wolves. With sheep nearby, the group learns ways to protect livestock without killing one of their predators.

Rancher Brian Bean is sharing the tools he's says are working to keep wolves away from herds, like trackers to know exactly where the packs are located, blow horns and lights to keep wolves away, and even start guns.

"I think it's a combination of all these measures, and human presence is really important, the turbo fladdry is a really good tool,” said Bean.
The group learned how to put up the fladdry -- a fence like device with flags aimed at protecting livestock.

Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife says these measures are not only working, they are cheaper and easier and protect both the wolves and livestock.
"We have had sheep and wolves in the same drainage for up to a month at a time with no loss of sheep or wolves because these methods are working," said Stone.

In fact, she says in six years the Wood River Wolf Project Area has seen more than 100,000 sheep, and only 30 have been killed by wolves.
"In the western U.S. this is one of the largest projects of this nature, people coming from all over the world to look at what we are doing on the ground here," said Stone.
People like former rancher Kurt Holtzen from Montana.
"It's one of the leading projects, one of the only with a seven-year history of very little loss, so it's been working, working good for a long time, so it's the place to come and see how they're doing it,” said Holtzen.
The Defenders of Wildlife say their methods prove it’s time to move away from the controversy and focus on a solution.
"Because this issue is so polarizing in Idaho, people stay in their camps and fight with each other and that's really unnecessary.  We are finding out that these non-lethal tools are far more effective at keeping wolves away from livestock than traditionally going out and killing them,” said Stone.
This is the 7th year of the Wood River Wolf Project. They say it's successful and hope it continues.


Friday Junes 13. 2014

RePosted from 
Defenders of Wildlife : Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up
Please follow @Defenders
Posted by: Melanie Gade 


Sheep herder, © Defenders of Wildlife
Sinovio and his horse keep a close eye on a flock of sheep in the Wood River Valley of central Idaho. Photo courtesy of Jesse Timberlake/Defenders of Wildlife.

Join us next Monday, June 16. 2014 and Tuesday, June 17. 2014 (in person if you live in Idaho, or remotely via phone) for a series of workshops and demonstrations on Idaho’s Wood River Wolf Project to learn about the non-lethal tools and techniques that have significantly reduced livestock losses to wolves in the project area for the past six years. 

In the Northern Rockies, more than 2,100 wolves have been killed to protect livestock since 1988. While regional research indicates that lethal wolf control may serve to temporarily reduce losses, it fails to prevent future livestock losses, is expensive and ultimately not a long-term, sustainable solution. 

Using non-lethal tools, the Wood River Wolf Project has successfully protected up to 27,000 sheep annually grazing on Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest, losing fewer than 30 sheep over the last six years with no government lethal control of wolves in the 1000 square mile project area over the duration of the project. 

Next Monday and Tuesday, we’ll be offering training, several workshops, demonstrations and field tours for anyone interested in learning more about our coexistence efforts. Get more details on the project and information about how to register.


Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Op-Ed by Kurt Holtzen

It’s been nearly 20 years since the reintroduction of wolves to the west and one would think that we would no longer be in a debate over how we should handle “the wolf issue” and other large predators. Sometimes I get a sense that we have spent too much time engaged in the debate over whether they belong or not.   It’s time to change the conversation from do we need them to how can the impact to producers raising livestock be lessened in areas that large predators are a factor.

Most people are familiar with lethal management options but are unaware that this was never meant as a permanent solution. The cost of implementing is high and there are other options available.  Many good organizations have been working on proactive Non-lethal management options over the last 19 years and Defenders of Wildlife has been at the forefront. In 1999 they partnered with the Baily Wildlife Foundation and formed and included a livestock producer’s council to provide input from the producer’s point of view. From this collaboration came “Livestock and Wolves, a guide to non-lethal tools and methods to reduce conflict”, an excellent publications outlining the application and use of Non-lethal management of large predators.

As a practical implementation of this publication the Wood River Wolf Project has become an excellent example of non-lethal management in action.  The wood river valley is nestled in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho and provides grazing for more than 25,000 sheep each summer and is also home to an active wolf pack. Over a five year period, 2007 – 2013, the documented sheep losses to wolves in the project area were 90% lower than USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) reported Idaho loss-rate. Specifically, their loss rate averaged 0.05% compared to 0.54% NASS state-wide estimates during the same period. This cooperative program between Defenders and producers should be a blueprint for what is possible when non-lethal management is implemented.

As the director of Ranching outreach and non-lethal management at the National Wolfwatcher coalition it’s my hope that this conversation to find long term solutions can be ongoing and I would be very happy to answer any question you might have about implementing a non-lethal management plan for your operation or if you are interested in the Defenders publication I would be happy to send you a PDF version. I can be reached at


Wednesday, June 4. 2014

Thank you to the Wood River Wolf Project 
and Defenders of Wildlife
Shared via Yellowstone Country

Living with Wolves in the Northwest from EarthFix on Vimeo.


Monday, May 12, 2014


Published on Sunday, 11 May 2014
Written by YNN
Phoenix, Arizona - The Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council is extending the deadline for livestock producers to submit applications to receive payments for wolf presence under the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Plan.  The previous May 1 deadline has been extended to June 2 to accommodate additional livestock producers desiring to apply.

The Coexistence Plan, announced in March 2014, is comprised of three core strategies: payments for wolf presence, funding for conflict avoidance measures, and funding for depredation compensation.
“We hope to broaden the number of Arizona and New Mexico livestock producers that receive financial compensation to offset the additional management costs associated with the presence of wolves,” said Coexistence Council Chairman Sisto Hernandez.

Payments to livestock producers for wolf presence will be based on a formula that considers a variety of factors, including whether the applicant’s land or grazing lease overlaps a wolf territory or core area (e.g., den or rendezvous area) and the number of wolf pups annually surviving to December 31 in the territory, recognizing that survival of wolf pups is not dependent upon the livestock producer. The formula also considers the number of livestock exposed to wolves and the applicant’s participation in proactive conflict avoidance measures.

The payments for wolf presence will be based on Mexican wolf data and livestock information from calendar year 2013.  Applications are available on the Coexistence Council website.

The intent of the Coexistence Plan is to recognize that there are real economic consequences to livestock producers coexisting with wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. In addition to losses from livestock depredations, livestock producers incur costs from undetected depredations and changes in livestock behavior in response to wolf presence, which can result in a reduction of livestock weight gain, reproductive rates, and meat quality, as well as increased costs tied to managing wolf/livestock interactions.

The Coexistence Plan, and specifically the pay for presence program, creates incentives for ranching in ways that promote self-sustaining Mexican wolf populations, viable ranching operations, and healthy western landscapes.

The current available funding for the Coexistence Plan comes from the Federal Livestock Demonstration Program, which in 2013 provided $20,000 for depredation compensation and $40,000 for preventative measures to Arizona Game and Fish Department, and $20,000 for depredation compensation and $50,000 for preventative measures to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.  These grant funds are matched by in-kind contributions through the Mexican Wolf Fund and Defenders of Wildlife providing financial assistance to livestock producers to implement proactive measures to reduce conflicts between Mexican wolves and livestock.

For more information, visit the Coexistence Council website: . For more information on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, visit




Reposted from:


(Ingo Wagner/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany has a serious wolf problem and no one knows what to do about it
“Five years from now we’ll have them in nearly every district.”

April 29. 2013
SPREMBERG, Germany — Surrounded by a flock of 250-odd black-faced sheep near this northeastern town, Frank Neumann jams his green Trilby hat on his head before a gust of wind sends it flying, then chuckles as his 120-lb sheepdog leaps up to lick his face.

The bearlike Pyrenean mountain dog is people-friendly, but it's no pet. Before the stocky farmer obtained six of them to protect his flock, he arrived one morning to find 27 of his cherished sheep eviscerated, their guts strewn across the pasture. It was a tough way to learn that the wolf had returned to Germany.

“Officially, there weren't supposed to be any here,” Neumann says. “I was pretty angry because no one had warned us.”

New sightings confirm that wolves are making a rapid comeback across Europe. But the most surprising success story — together with possible related problems — is here in Germany, which lacks the infrastructure for wildlife protection despite its strong tradition of environmentalism.

“Germany as a whole is becoming affected by wolves,” says World Wildlife Fund wolf expert Janosch Arnold. “Five years from now we’ll have them in nearly every district.”

Since the year 2000, when an infrared camera produced the first evidence of their return close to the Polish border, the number of wolf packs in Germany has mushroomed from two to more than 30.

Their comeback was initially attributed to the emptying of rural areas in what was formerly East Germany. 
But with wolf packs settling amid wind-energy projects, along well-trodden nature trails and even on Berlin’s doorstep, it's now clear that the European Union's tough protection laws are responsible.

Frank Neumann and dog. 
(Jason Overdorf/GlobalPost)

In a troubling development for some farmers, wolves are proving no more prone to remaining isolated in the wilderness than America's coyotes.
Wolves have killed some 350 farm animals across Germany during the past five years. Some farmers claim fear is stopping their sheep from breeding.

In recent weeks, wolves were indirectly blamed for a bloodbath on the Autobahn after a herd of frightened horses broke from their paddock and bolted onto the highway.

As in US states where wolves have made comebacks, such incidents have prompted calls from farmers and hunters for relaxing a ban on hunting the wild canines.
That's exposing a rift between the rural residents who must live with wolves and urban environmentalists who love them.

Conservationists are concerned that a serious lack of skills and funding would make the reinstatement of controlled hunting problematic.

Even in countries where wolves have always thrived, such as Finland and Norway, hunting licenses are often allotted with little understanding of population dynamics, critics say.

Germany has no agency that compares with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which has a budget of nearly $3 billion a year to implement laws like the Endangered Species Act.
Instead, the country's 16 states are left to conduct their own conservation policies. Research and monitoring is left mostly to poorly trained volunteers, says Ilka Reinhardt, one of Germany's rare wildlife biologists who helps run the wolf management bureau in Saxony, which has the Germany's largest population of wolves.

“In that regard, we’re like a developing country,” she says.

However, the real problem may be not the wolves themselves, but economics.
States compensate livestock owners for losses from attacks with various financial packages and incentives.
But farmers say compensation for slaughtered animals is always slow to arrive. And the funds cover only concrete items such as electric fences or sheepdogs, not the additional labor required for installation or training.

Compounding the problem, many sheep farmers make ends meet with the aid of European Union subsidies for the preservation of grassland ecosystems. They're essentially paid to graze their sheep, which means they must continually move from one pasture to another. The new threat of wolves requires them to also move their fences.

That's what bothers farmer Neumann, who despite the slaughter of his sheep remembers his lone sighting of a wolf as having filled him with exhilaration.
He's solved the problem of wolf attacks with his dogs and electric fences. But feeding his six huge flock-watchers costs him around $8,000 a year, a big chunk of the profits generated by 750 sheep.

“Many of us farmers here in Saxony are prepared to live with wolves,” he says. “But it's a huge financial burden.” 




March 26, 2014 - 5:07 am EDT

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A volunteer panel of ranchers, environmentalists and county officials from New Mexico and Arizona has unveiled a plan to help ranchers and Mexican gray wolves coexist.

The plan was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It aims to reduce conflicts among wolves and livestock as the federal government tries to reintroduce the predator to its historic range in the Southwest.

The Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council says the plan provides the basis for distributing money from a trust fund that was set up to reimburse ranchers for livestock deaths and to pay for measures to scare wolves away from livestock and populated areas.

The simple presence of wolves can also trigger payments based on a formula that considers several factors, including whether a rancher's land overlaps wolf territory.


Thank you @Wulalowe


My husband and I live on the Bar C R ranch in Petaluma, CA where we run 300 mother cows using predator friendly ranching methods. I am also an advisory board member of Project Coyote – a coalition of educators, scientists and predator-friendly ranchers who promote coexistence between people and wildlife. As someone who understands the importance and benefits that predators provide to both ranch lands and entire eco systems, I want to see the wolf recover in California.

Last week I spoke at a rally in Sacramento in support of maintaining federal protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)- and against a proposal put forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves from the ESA. To delist wolves would be wrong in so many ways; these important canids are keystone species and necessary for the balance and health of wild creatures and wild places.  To delist would be unscientific, counter-productive, and financially wasteful.

As important apex predators, wolves need and deserve protection across their historical range. And as they try to expand into their former range, they run the gauntlet of misinformed management that results in their needless death. Wolves are unaware that they are crossing political boundaries where they will face ever-changing policies ranging from excessive killing to nearly full protection. If they are not consistently protected with sound conservation strategies now, how will delisting improve their peril?

Many management tools and techniques have proven successful in preventing attacks on livestock. Ranchers who use non-lethal methods report lower losses from predation than those who use lethal methods. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as USDA Wildlife Services and State Fish and Game departments can promote and improve non-lethal methods.

Unfortunately, old traditions—even bad ones—die hard, and some ranchers will continue to engage in their war on wildlife, however real or imagined the threats might be. Delisting wolves sends ranchers the message that it is unnecessary for them to have systems in place to help prevent wolves from attacking their livestock in the first place.

Why are Wildlife Services, State Fish and Game department and hunters allowed a functional open season on wolves? They are ready and willing to kill any wolf that is considered a problem. The truth is, the wolf really isn’t the problem- rather it’s lack of coordinated management where wolves cross from a protected area to a kill zone: lack of effective management that provides good healthy habitat with sufficient game populations that together deter wolves from killing livestock and; lack of cost-effective management that should promote and implement non-lethal control measures.

In the last two centuries, we have shot, gassed, poisoned, trapped, and snared: bison, prairie dogs, badgers, grizzly bears, coyotes, wolves, foxes, bobcats and more, all because they pose some sort of threat to livestock.

Meanwhile, the American public has started to see that these animals we are killing actually play a valuable role in our ecosystem, and maybe the slash- and- burn way we are ‘controlling’ wildlife isn’t sustainable. We overharvest the natural prey for predators like wolves; we take away their habitat and replace it with domestic livestock with little protection. We create the very problem that wolves are being killed for.

Ranchers should welcome the wolves back into California, not only for the ecological benefits they bring but because wolves were in California long before our sheep and cattle, and if we force the public to choose, they might decide that wolves are a more valuable resource than our livestock. If we devoted just half the money, time and energy towards learning to coexist with wolves as we have towards our war against them, livestock producers could save countless lives on both sides of the fence, while also building a new reputation as an ecologically responsible industry that has learned from its mistakes. We all would win.  And then and only then might you might consider delisting the wolf from the endangered species list.

Keli Hendricks

The article above was written by Keli Hendricks, a predator friendly cattle rancher from Petaluma, California who serves on the Advisory board of Project Coyote 

(Photo at top of page Great Pyrenees protecting its flock at the Marcia Barinaga Ranch in Marin County, CA - Keli Hendricks/ See the related article below here.) 


(photo above: Great Pyrenees protecting its flock at the Marcia Barinaga Ranch in Marin County, CA - 
Keli Hendricks/ )

In the picturesque community of Marin County California- just North of San Francisco- public controversy over the use of poisons, snares, “denning” (the killing coyote and fox pups in their dens), and other lethal methods led to a majority decision by the Marin County Board of Supervisors to stop contracting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services predator control program in 2000. Instead the Board approved an alternative community-based program to assist ranchers with livestock-predator conflicts known as the Marin County Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program (hereafter MCLWPP), a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders from local wildlife protection organizations to ranchers, scientists, and county government officials (Fox 2008).

Marcia Barinaga Ranch 
Marcia Barinaga with her sheep flock protected with predator proof fencing and livestock guard dogs supported through the Marin County Livestock and Wildlife Protection program. Barinaga says she has experienced no sheep loses as a result of her non-lethal predator friendly animal husbandry practices – Photo credit: Keli Hendricks/

The MCLWPP initiated cost-sharing to help ranchers install or upgrade fencing and other livestock-protection infrastructure, install predator-deterrents and detectors, and purchase and sustain guard dogs and llamas, coupled with indemnification for any ensuing verified livestock losses to predators.  Improved animal husbandry practices combined with these economic and technological incentives led to its early success (Agocs 2007, Fox 2008). Participants do not give up their rights to kill predators consistent with state and federal laws. Rather than contract with the USDA Wildlife Services (WS) for the provision of personnel to kill coyotes and other wildlife, the county assigns personnel and allocates money to help stock-owners prevent depredations solely through non-lethal means. To qualify for the MCLWPP, ranchers must have 25 or more head of livestock and must utilize at least two non-lethal predation deterrent methods verified through inspection by the office of the Marin County Agricultural Commissioner, thereby becoming eligible for cost-share indemnification for any ensuing losses to predation.

Five years after implementation of the MCLWPP, a research assessment was conducted (Fox 2008) that compared the former Wildlife Services program to the MCLWPP, with regard to rancher satisfaction and preferences, lethality to predators, livestock losses, use of non-lethal predator deterrent techniques, and costs. The study, conducted through a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, including a comprehensive survey of ranchers who participated in the MCLWPP, documented the non-lethal cost-share program (1) had support from a majority of participating ranchers, (2) was preferred over the USDA Wildlife Service’s traditional predator management program by a majority of participating ranchers, (3) helped to reduce livestock losses, (4) resulted in an increase in the use of non-lethal predation deterrent methods by a majority of participating ranchers, (5) likely reduced the total number of predators killed to protect livestock, (6) reduced the spectrum of species of predators killed to protect livestock, and (7) fewer species of predator were killed.

A llama guards sheep at the Jensen Ranch, Marin County, CA – photo credit: 
Camilla H. Fox/

In 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle (Fimrite 2012) reported that 26 Marin County ranchers participated in the County program[1] utilizing 37 guard dogs, 31 llamas and over 30 miles of fences, to protect 7,630 sheep that were pastured on 14,176 acres. Coyote depredation on sheep in the county, though it fluctuated, declined steadily from 236 in fiscal year 2002-03 to 90 in fiscal year 2010-11 – a 62% reduction – with fourteen ranchers recording no predation losses and only three ranchers losing over ten sheep during the following year. According to Marin Agricultural Commissioner, Stacy Carlsen, who oversees implementation of the non-lethal cost-share program, “losses fell from 5.0 to 2.2 percent while program costs fell by over $50,000. For the first couple of years we couldn’t tell if the loss reductions were a trend or a blip. Now, we can say there’s a definite pattern and livestock losses have decreased significantly.” Carlsen also noted “This innovative model sets a precedent for meeting a wider compass of community needs and values where both agriculture and protection of wildlife are deemed important by the community. The success of our county model has set the trend for the rest of the nation.”

Cam with sheep Marcia's ranch
Camilla Fox, Founder & Executive Director of Project Coyote, at Barinaga Ranch, Marin County – Photo credit: Keli Hendricks/

The heart of Marin County’s results-driven program lies in its eschewing of a governmental role in assisting in the destruction of wildlife, which makes the assistance in preventing depredations all the more attractive and ultimately successful. Though some specific methods in the MCLWPP may not prove equally efficacious or even feasible in other environments – for example fencing on federal lease lands that could disrupt wildlife migration corridors – the MCLWPP provides a provides a cost-effective and ecologically beneficial model to address carnivore-livestock conflicts by integrating modern science, ethics, and economics. Such innovative prototyping that incorporates adaptive management strategies provides a template to guide the development of other non-lethal programs across differing landscapes to address the age-old predicament of raising livestock in an environment that includes predators (Fox 2008).


Agocs, C.  2007.   Making Peace with Coyote.   Bay Nature (January 1, 2007). Berkeley, CA. Available from:   
(accessed May 5, 2013)

Fimrite, P.  2012.  Ranchers shift from traps to dogs to fight coyotes.  San Francisco Chronicle (P. 1, April 27, 2012). San Francisco, CA. Available from:  
(accessed May 5, 2013)

Fox, C. H.  2008.  Analysis of the Marin County strategic plan for protection of livestock and wildlife, an alternative to traditional predator control. M.A. thesis, Prescott College, AZ. 120 pp. Larkspur, CA.

Project Coyote is a national non-profit organization based in Marin County, California promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy. For more information visit:

[1] According to Marin County Agricultural Commissioner Stacy Carlsen, all commercial ranches were participating in the MCLWPP as of May 2013.

Project Coyote
P.O. Box 5007
Larkspur, CA 94977
ph: 415.945.3232 


Reposted from the New York Times
November 5. 2010


Dean P. Peterson, a fourth-generation cattle rancher, has found himself acting as a grudging mediator between the two groups. Working through Mr. Peterson, a new nonprofit group, People and Carnivores, promotes “coexistence,” and has built a five-mile, $15,000 electric fence adorned with flags to protect new calves on a neighbor’s property.
Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

Ranchers moved cattle on their allotment in the Deer Lodge National Forest outside Deer Lodge, Mont., in September. Some conservationists and ranchers are beginning to work together to try to manage the wolf population. 
Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

“A lot of my neighbors think I am wet behind the ears to take money from these people,” said Mr. Peterson, left, who has not yet accepted financial help for himself. “But the wolf is here to stay now, and my feeling is that those people who want it here should share the costs.”
Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

A collared gray wolf in Montana. The conflict between conservationists and ranchers dates back generations, but tensions soared in 1995 and 1996, when the government reintroduced 66 gray wolves in Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The goal was to restore the balance to the regional ecosystem: after the wolves died out, elk and coyote populations had increased alarmingly.
Credit: Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department

Bryce Andrews, manager of Dry Cottonwood Creek Ranch, is a passionate advocate for finding a way for cattle ranchers and wolves to coexist. 
Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

Glen Brookhart, 69, an anti-wolf protester, attended a pro-wolf rally in Bozeman, Mont., in September. Wolf hunts begin in Idaho and Montana at the end of the summer. 
Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

Pro-wolf demonstrators in downtown Bozeman. Montana set a quota of 220 wolves to be killed this season, or 25 percent of the state’s total population. The hunting tags sold swiftly, which some attributed to pent-up rage among the ranchers. 
Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times


By Leslie Kaufman
Published: November 4, 2011
Times Topic: Wolves
@nytimesscience on Twitter.

Dean P. Peterson is a fourth-generation cattle rancher in the Big Hole River Valley of southwestern Montana.
Rich Addicks for The New York Times

JACKSON, Mont. —   As a fourth-generation rancher, Dean B. Peterson has a complicated relationship with wolves.

In the 1880s, they preyed on his family’s livestock after his great-grandparents arrived as homesteaders along the Big Hole River. By the 1930s, wolves were nearly extinct as a result of traps and poisons. By the time Mr. Peterson was born in the 1960s, the traps had given way to nostalgic tales about how clever the wolves had been.

Growing up, he thrilled to the sight of any wolf and to the sound of an occasional nighttime howl. But as an adult, witnessing a rebound in the gray wolf population, he did not hesitate to shoot one when it passed behind his sons’ jungle gym and headed for the cattle pen.

“I do not dislike or hate the animal,” said Mr. Peterson, who calls wolves “an unreal species that God created.”

Instead, he resents the conservationists who pressed the federal government to reintroduce the gray wolf to the Northern Rockies in the mid-1990s. That decision was shoved “down our throat with a plunger,” he said.

Yet the dynamic between ranchers and conservationists has begun to change, and Mr. Peterson is surprised to find himself acting as a grudging mediator.

The turning point came early this year as lawmakers from some Western states were demanding that the government remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list, and cede control of the animal in Montana and Idaho to state governments. In April, they succeeded by attaching a rider to a budget bill.

Aghast, some environmental groups had a moment of reckoning. Had they gone too far in using the Endangered Species Act
as a cudgel instead of forging compromises with ranchers?

So a handful began reaching out to ranchers, offering them money and tools to fend off wolves without killing them. And some ranchers, mindful that tough federal restrictions could be reimposed if wolf numbers dwindle again, have been listening. Tentative partnerships are cropping up, and a few that already existed are looking to expand.

Working through Mr. Peterson, People and Carnivores,
a new nonprofit group that promotes “coexistence” has, with help from the Wildlife Conservation Society,  built a five-mile, $15,000 electric fence adorned with flags to protect calves on a neighbor’s property. This summer, it helped pay for a mounted rider to patrol 20 square miles of grazing land shared by three ranches near Mr. Peterson’s as a deterrent.

“A lot of my neighbors think I am wet behind the ears to take money from these people,” said Mr. Peterson, who has not yet accepted aid for himself. “But the wolf is here to stay now, and my feeling is that those people who want it here should share the costs.”

The conflict dates back generations, but tensions soared in 1995 and 1996, when the government reintroduced 66 gray wolves in Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The goal was to restore balance to the regional ecosystem: after the wolves died out, elk and coyote populations had increased alarmingly. Elk herds were destroying large tracts of vegetation, and coyotes had reduced second-tier predators like badgers.

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service
set a minimum population goal of some 150 wolves, plus 15 breeding pairs, in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. To their surprise, the wolves hit those targets in just seven years and spread beyond the wilderness areas.

Livestock kills began to climb, and the ranchers grew angry. They even blamed the wolves for cows’ weight loss. “They come off the pasture on average about 100 pounds lighter than before there were wolves in the area,” Mr. Peterson said. “They spend so much time looking around, they don’t have time to eat.”

By 2007, the total number of wolves in the three states was 1,513. Surveying the evidence, the Fish and Wildlife Service sought that year to have the animal “delisted” under the Endangered Species Act. But conservationists sued to block that move, saying Wyoming lacked an adequate management plan. A federal court in Missoula, Mont., agreed.

In 2009, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried again to remove wolves from federal protection in all areas except in Wyoming. The court would not allow it, setting the stage for a revolt by lawmakers and this year’s unusual Congressional vote. The Interior Department then brokered a similar compromise in Wyoming.

Wolf hunts began in Idaho and Montana at the end of the summer. Montana set a quota of 220 wolves to be killed, or 25 percent of the state’s total population; the hunting tags sold swiftly, which some attributed to pent-up rage among the ranchers.

The backlash led some environmentalists to question their approach. “I personally look back and say there were a number of things that conservationists did that were not effective and which blew up on us,” said Lisa Upson, executive director of Keystone Conservation,
a Montana-based nonprofit group that offers ranchers help with nonlethal control measures. “Now we have to live with this horrible precedent.”

So her group and others are pouring energy into training mounted riders to fend off wolves. They are promoting husbandry techniques that allow calves to grow stronger in penned areas before grazing on the range. Drawing on a folk wisdom that dates from medieval times, they have hung lines of red flags along pastures to deter wolves from approaching.

Most acknowledge that such measures are not a panacea. Michael D. Jimenez, the wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service outside Jackson, Wyo., says federal and state agencies have tried guard dogs, noise aversion (cannons or sirens set off by motion detectors) and “scent aversion,” or placing wolf urine and scat on trees, for years. “Each works in some circumstances,” Mr. Jimenez said, “but are not necessarily a match for a robust wolf population.”

And ranchers may not embrace such tactics. Once, after Ms. Upson thought she had talked some ranchers in the Upper Ruby Valley in Montana into sharing half the cost of a mounted summer rider, she found that they had used the money to pay for fuel for helicopters dispatched for wolf shootings.

Tensions between conservationists and ranchers in the Big Hole area have run especially high. Two summers ago, wolves took about a dozen calves from Mr. Peterson’s herd as it grazed in the mountains. He complained to the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency,
which responded by shooting only one wolf.

In Mr. Peterson’s view, that was hardly a solution. He says the government’s response has been hampered by too many rules and too little money. Ranchers are often asked by wolf hunters to pay up to $350 an hour for the helicopter fuel, he said.

If wolves are going to be part of the landscape,Mr. Peterson decided, he wants ranchers to get their share of the money “the people in Los Angeles and New York send” to conservationists to find solutions.

So he will continue to work with environmentalists and try to persuade his neighbors to do the same.“I think I should be able to shoot on sight on my land, no questions asked,” he said, but “I am willing to do my part to try and adapt.”

A version of this article appeared in print on November 5, 2011, on page A9 of the New York edition with the headline: After Years of Conflict, a New Dynamic in Wolf Country.




Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife




A cost benefit analysis of non-lethal wolf -depredation management in central Idaho


Please tell your local grocer that you would like for them 
to carry "Predator Friendly" labeled products.
This is better than boycotting "non Predator Friendly" foods. 
This is proactive and positive.
Let's end unnecessary wolf~livestock conflict, once and for all, 
by mobilizing a groundswell of support for ethical ranching.

Thank you to Janet Hoben and WolfWatcher

Monday Musing: 

Educated consumers = great wildlife advocates !
Let's educate our family and friends…please share:

There are farms and ranches who regularly practice 'predator friendly' humane methods and wildlife stewardship. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves about these businesses and support them with our hard-earned money whenever possible.

Please visit and shop:

1 - Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network

2 - Predator Friendly

3- Animal Welfare Approved

Did you know? As of 2010, USFWS provides thousands of federal tax dollars via grants annually to states to help ranchers learn to use proactive nonlethal measures to reduce livestock loss and to compensate ranchers for losses caused by wolves.

We believe that best long-term vision for those funds comes from teaching ranchers about nonlethal measure so that they can learn to peacefully coexist with wolves and wildlife. It saves wolves and it saves money because eventually, via consistent use of proactive deterrents, the need for loss compensation will decrease.

That saves us all lots of money.


From Defenders of Wildlife











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