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Ranching Solutions

Photo: Matt Moyer


A new understanding

Living with Wolves is creating opportunities to develop coexistence between wolves and livestock. Combining our experience with wolves and the experience of our Advisors who have been developing progressive techniques of wolf/livestock cohabitation, we know that with rigorous preparation and hands-on application of existing knowledge, the lands of the West can and will be shared by livestock and wildlife, if the proper steps are taken.

Old age, birthing complications, disease, and bad weather all kill far more livestock than 
any predator.

Cattle drive on the Padlock Ranch in Wyoming.The vast majority of wolves live on the national forests and other public lands of the West—the same lands commonly used for livestock production. With predators and livestock sharing the same land, conflicts can arise. Although their statistical impact is minimal, wolves can present real challenges to ranchers. By using both traditional and innovative methods of keeping domestic animals separated from wolves, coexistence is possible. The result is fewer dead cattle and sheep—and fewer dead wolves.

The modern range rider keeps vigilant watch over livestock while monitoring wolf packs and other predators. Because wolves often use the same den every spring, well-informed ranchers who know these locations keep livestock away from conflict. The collaring of wolves and the use of radio telemetry also assist range riders and field biologists by revealing the movement of resident wolves.

An unfortunate consequence of ranching on the open range is that livestock frequently die by any number of natural causes, especially weather exposure, disease, and birthing complications. Whenever possible these food sources should be removed. Ranchers also monitor unhealthy livestock that become easy targets for predators. The use of guard dogs and night watchmen provides added protection for the herds and flocks, while birthing corrals with electrified fencing offer protection for newborn animals and nursing mothers.

For generations, traditional methods like fluttering flags, or fladry, were used to protect livestock on the range. These portable methods are still used and have been updated with an electrified version, known as turbo-fladry.

Wolf predation on sheep reported by ranchers in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

125,000Total reported sheep loss Percentages exceed 100 because of rounding. Source: USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service 2008.

Wolf - 1,300

Coyote - 31,600

Bear - 2,200

Weather - 28,300

Cougar - 1,400

Other (fox, eagle, other unknown) - 8,100

Dog - 1,700

Unknown - 9,600

Disease - 13,700

Old age - 7,200

Other - 8,700

Lambing Complications - 11,200

Wolves | Ranching Solutions

Using guard dogs for protecting herds and flocks

The use of guard dogs and night watchmen provides added protection for the herds and flocks. Photo: Matt Moyer

Cleaning up livestock that died of natural causes

The presence of animals that died from natural causes draws predators into areas with livestock. When possible, ranchers can help keep wolves and all other scavengers away by removing the carcasses of dead livestock instead of leaving them on rangeland. Photo: Matt Moyer

Birthing corrals with electric fencing

Wild grazing animals find safety in numbers and protective mothers keep their young close. Timing the birth of calves to keep cow-calf pairs together longer is another technique used to keep calves safe from carnivores.

Range rider protecting his heard

Range rider, keeping watch over his herds and flocks

Range riders, once a part of traditional ranching operations, are again being used to monitor the movements of predators and livestock on the open range.