10 October 2014
Another Successful Season Comes to a Close at the Wood River Wolf Project: This weekend thousands of sheep will trail through Ketchum, Idaho to their winter location after having been successfully protected from wolves and other predators all summer using nonlethal coexistence tools — guard dogs, strobe lights and air horns – proving yet again that it’s possible for livestock to be protected without killing wolves. Sheep in the Sawtooth National Forest are seasonally protected by the Wood River Wolf Project, the nation’s largest wolf and sheep coexistence operation. Pioneered by Defenders, Blaine County, Lava Lake Land and Livestock, and the Forest Service, the Wood River Wolf Project is a partnership of local wildlife advocates, ranching operations and county, state and federal agencies working together to use proactive, nonlethal deterrents to minimize livestock and wolf conflicts. The project is proving that wolves and livestock can successfully share the same landscape with minimal conflict and without government intervention to kill wolves. Out of nearly 30,000 animals, only two sheep were recorded as wolf depredations this year. Over the seven years that the Wood River Wolf Project has been in existence, fewer than 30 sheep have been lost to wolves, even though this region has one of the highest concentrations of wolves and livestock sharing the landscape in the Western U.S.
Angry Ranchers Speak Out at rural Wolf Management Meeting in Eastern Washington: This week the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) held a public forum in a rural northeast corner of the state to discuss wolf management in Washington State. The hearing attracted dozens of local rural residents who oppose wolves on the landscape. Several of the ranchers who testified at the hearing expressed frustration about a number of livestock losses that have occurred in the past few months in Stevens County. Those familiar with Washington wolves will recall that about one month ago, WDFW mistakenly killed the alpha female of the Huckleberry wolf pack in response to a series of conflicts that occurred on a poorly protected grazing operation on a clear cut owned by Hancock Timber company. WDFW has a history of killing wolves before reasonable non-lethal tools have been utilized – like they did in 2012 with the Wedge pack and again this year with the Huckleberry pack. Despite the growing anti-wolf fever in Washington State, we’ll continue to advocate that WDFW should not give in to bullying pressure from anti-wolf hunters and ranchers who refuse to share the public lands with wolves. We believe WDFW should require livestock operators to use meaningful nonlethal deterrents in all areas where wolves and livestock overlap to avoid livestock and wolf losses.