Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Alberta and Montana Ranchers who have found ways to successfully limit their livestock losses to Wolves gave a talk in Washington State recently emphasizing the two critical steps that every rancher must take to forge successfull coexistance with Wolves: 1) work with fellow ranchers to remove dead livestock carcasses from the range,,,,,,,2) Get Range Riders out in the field keeping Wolves wary and on the move..............In essence, bring forth a LANDSCAPE OF FEAR mentality that keeps Wolves vigilant and wary of us human predators...............No different than how Wolves keep Elk and other prey animals from lingering in any one spot too long

What Washington can learn about wolves

Posted by Jay Kehne
Conservation Northwest
I was sitting there in Colville, Washington, listening to two speakers who have over 30 years experience between them with programs to help ranchers avoid wolf conflicts in Alberta and Missoula, when it hit me -- This is good stuff! What I was learning, based on all of their experiences, successes and failures, is a model to succeed that is proven, simple, and backed by large groups of ranchers and communities in diverse locations.
It's good stuff, but also new stuff to many in Washington. No matter how long you have ranched or how much time you've spent in the woods, or what you think you know about wolves, most Washingtonians really have very little experience understanding how wolves and livestock interact in any of our lifetimes. The wolves just haven't been here to help us learn how to coexist.

Knowing we have so much to learn, I paid close attention to what the speakers had to offer. And what they were saying is if you get nothing else from the next four hours of presentations--facts, figures, statistics, and rancher testimonies--remember this: Wolves learn very fast and teach each other. When a wolf learns something about a good hunt, they pass it on to their pack. And if their pack is hunted or otherwise dispersed, they also pass it on to new packs.

Both speakers then gave us two steps that must happen if ranchers want to reduce livestock losses and weight loss in cattle caused by wolves in the same territory. They have accomplished this in their communities through cooperatives and by people working together.
1. Set up a region-wide carcass removal program immediately
Ranchers, dairy operators, whole communities can benefit from this process with immediate results, lowering livestock deaths from wolves by 50%. If the animals are composted, it can even create an income stream. It takes work, but when a rancher has an anonymous way to make a phone call and someone comes out and removes a dead animal, and or cleans up typical bone yards that occur, it puts a halt to wolves learning to visit livestock areas for food.
Where bone yards and carcasses are left out in the open, radio collared wolves have shown that they visit bone yards every one to two weeks as they make their typical territorial wanderings. This brings wolves into livestock country, resulting in more interactions between wolves and cattle and sheep. Wolves don't look for prey randomly; they repeat their successful journeys, returning to elk or deer feeding grounds, bone yards or where they might have learned they can kill livestock.
2. Get range riders out on the ground
The second step involves including range riders, who increase human presence and vigilance out with the grazing herds on a regular basis, every 1-3 days.

The range rider's job is two-fold. The main purpose is to decrease the vulnerability of cattle to wolf attack by keeping the calves and yearlings gathered in small herds, as opposed to widely dispersed across the range. Small herds stand better up to a wolf "test." Wolves test cattle to see if they will run, and simply put, if a calf or yearling runs after a wolf pack tests them, they die. Nearly 95% of all cattle killed by wolves are calves or yearlings.

And when their hunt is successful, the pack and every individual wolf in that pack just learned how to kill cattle. When calves or yearlings don't run, they live, and are "retrained" to accept the protection of the herd and not bolt. Simply put, livestock that learn to stand their ground don't die.
When a wolf does kill a calf, if we react and feel it is necessary to kill a wolf from the pack, often what happens is the pack then disperses and the remaining wolves take their "knowledge of livestock" with them to other territories and other wolf packs. If managers then try to kill the whole pack, invariably some escape, again taking their knowledge with them. Instead of the problem shrinking, it spreads.

Yes, there are times when chronic livestock killers or packs need to be controlled, but it needs to be done very thoughtfully. Wolves avoid people and their scent, so a range rider's presence disrupts predation behavior on livestock by keeping wolves moving through a livestock area quickly. Range riders also can be on the lookout for sick or ailing livestock that may need to be removed from the area and not become a natural target for a wolf pack.

The second purpose of a range rider is to monitor the wolves in the area. This takes coordination among the ranchers, the managing wildlife agencies, and the range riders.
In Alberta, up to 40 ranchers belong to a cooperative that covers 4,000 square miles that hires several range riders and has developed a carcass pick-up and composting program. Using both of these techniques, on an average year, ranchers in Alberta have reduced their livestock mortality by 90%. And cattle weight losses over the grazing season from wolf harassment were largely nonexistent.

Last year these 40 ranchers lost zero cattle, even with many wolf packs living in the region. In the Montana cooperative similar results are being reported. They also do a community winter wolf tracking effort that accurately determines the number of packs and wolves they need to plan for the next grazing season.
One of the speakers summed it up for me when he said,
"There is no living with wolves in livestock country until you truly understand wolf behavior, are working to modify livestock behavior to reduce vulnerability, and actually create a change in human behavior."
Behavior either drives us towards conflicts with wolves or gives us ways to avoid conflicts: wolf behavior, cattle behavior, and human behavior.


The Mad Trapper said...

Move back to Florida.

Anonymous said...

Lies will get you no where. I have personally talked to some of these people who have tried nonlethal methods. They work until the wolves get hungry enough to go around them. I guess you don't worry about it...its not your livelihood going out the window. You people are sick.

Rick Meril said...

every business has its share of freebies for anyone,,,,,,,,,,grazing allotments cheap and subsidized as well as Wildlife Services,,,,,,,,other farmers get paid to raise certain crops,,,,,,,some industrial concerns get subdsidies for research and development,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,along with all of those goodies there are risks--yours involve allowing other creatures to share the land with you..........

Scott Slocum said...

The anonymous commenter referred to "some of the people who have tried non-lethal methods." Not a lot to go on there.

How many of "the people," with how much knowledge or expert advice? Now much was invested, how much effort was made? What methods where applied, when and where?

If there was a point of failure in a thorough system of non-lethal depredation management, what was it and how could it have been avoided? After how many failures was the system abandoned? What was done instead, and what's its relative cost?

Without more information, this comment isn't of much use.

Rick Meril said...

Scott,,,,,,,,,,,,insightful and smart commentary...........And the definition of a winner is "one who gets himself off the mat after being DUSTED and comes back to hit a walk off home run".......Perhaps some of our Ranchers and Farmers would become better at their tasks if they would take some of this advice to heart

The Mad Trapper said...

Yes...because farmers and ranchers want advice about farming and ranching from people who have no experience farming or ranching.

Rick Meril said...

seems like the farmers and ranchers are quite happy to take freebies in the form of grazing subsidies and "money to plant or not to plant certain crops" from folks who are not ranchers or farmers .............Sleep with the devil, live with the devil"