Life with the Wolves
A discussion of conflict avoidance strategies for ranchers.
Here in the Kootenays, ranchers need to balance many aspects of livestock welfare. Today, we’ll touch on the basics of ranchland management and wolves. The goal, of course, is to prevent or minimize damage in terms of livestock-wolf interaction.
The study “Coexistence Among Livestock, People & Wolves” study was completed by the nonprofit organization Wolf Awareness.
Co-author Jenny Coleshill is a biologist living in the Grand Forks area and has been leading conservation initiatives in the Kooteany-Boundary region for many years. Jenny is also a farmer and owner of Good Times Farm located up the beautiful North Fork Valley on the Granby River, where they raise pasture run organic laying hens and sell eggs to the community. This summary provides a brief overview of the information in the “Coexistence Among Livestock, People & Wolves” report.
● Killing wolves won’t reduce conflict in the long term. Numerous studies have shown that unless wolves are fully exterminated, killing individuals to reduce conflict is not effective. In fact, it may even increase depredation. The study states that “Additionally, when wolves or coyotes are killed indiscriminately they rebound with a very high reproductive capacity.”
● The most effective methods of managing livestock-wolf interactions are the protection of livestock (fencing, dogs) or the elimination of “problem wolves.”
Options for managing include:
Surveillance: Monitoring the area can provide a consistent human presence and check on the health of the livestock.
Fencing: Electric fences have been found to be particularly effective in deterring wolves. Find more information on the building and maintenance of fencing in the full report.
Fladry: A method of flagging used to keep wolves out of areas temporarily, most effectively used in specific situations. The flagging is bright orange tape that is easy to install around an existing fence. Find more information on specific fladry protocol and where to order in the full report.
Livestock Guardian Animals: Employing guardian animals such as dogs, donkeys, llamas and long horned steers.
● Remain unattractive to wolves. This means removing any dead carcasses and managing any sick livestock, as to not draw wolves to the area. A “strong human presence” frequenting the area can also be an effective protective measure. During calving season, “burn, bury, or haul away biological waste.”
● Consider Property Risk: To determine a high risk property, we must take into account:
Wild ungulate density;
Distance to cover.
See the study for a full property risk assessment.
● Overall, prevention is the most effective method of avoiding interactions. Strategies to avoid any livestock-wolf interactions are the most effective way of avoiding conflict in the long term. However, in some cases of a specific problem wolf, elimination may be the most effective route.
Coexistence Among Livestock, People & Wolves. Principal Author: Sadie Parr. Contributing Authors: Joe Engelhart, Louise Liebenberg, Lesley Sampson, Jennifer Coleshill.
Find More Resources Here:
Wolves & Coyotes: Government of BC resources on coexistence with wolves and coyotes in the province. Additional guidance and information is available on compost, pets, fruit trees and encounters.
Carnivores & Communities Program: Waterton Biosphere Reserve has produced a comprehensive guide regarding coexistence with wolves and grizzly bears to reduce conflict.