Ranching & Farming with wolves
Raising livestock is hard work. When a rancher or farmer loses livestock to predation it can be heart-wrenching and take an economic toll. For a long time, wolves (and other predators) have been seen as the enemy, and many were nearly wiped off the American landscape by state-sponsored bounty programs to benefit livestock. But ranchers and farmers are also the "original conservationists," living close to and working with the land. And predators are the ultimate ecosystem engineers: where they have been reintroduced, they have created "trophic cascades" that regenerate wasted ecosystems, as demonstrated most recently in reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. We believe both are important. We believe both can coexist. And we are here to help.
Importantly, wolves account for less than 1% of sheep loss in the West, and less than 0.002% of cattle. Some ranches are affected more severely than others, but killing wolves that predate on livestock has proven ineffective. Removing key wolf pack members destabilizes the pack, resulting in more predation. Nonlethal controls, like turbofladry (electric fences with flags), consolidated calving, burying livestock carcasses, and other deterrents are much more effective in reducing conflict. More and more ranchers support coexistence. But where there are predators, there is predation, and that is where we come in.
Our goal is to support and fund more robust "pay for presence" programs, that not only compensate for predation but also compensate for the added stress to humans and their livestock. Various federal and state laws provide compensation for the "market value" of livestock lost to wolf predation but we understand that is sometimes inadequate. We understand that a stressed cow is a skinny cow and that's no good for its owner or the herd, and we also understand that an unhappy livestock owner is no good for wolves.
Defenders of Wildlife, Livestock & Wolves: A Guide to Nonlethal Tools and Methods to Reduce Conflicts (2nd ed. 2016)
National Geographic, Why Killing Wolves Might Not Save Livestock (Dec. 3, 2014)