“Livestock Guard Humans” Protect Cattle from Wolves in Washington State

Range Riders Program Expands to Cover Territories of Five Wolf Packs

A range rider in Eastern Washington working his herd. Photo: Laura Owens

A range rider in Eastern Washington working his herd. Photo: Laura Owens

The Range Riders program, co-sponsored by Conservation Northwest, works with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and ranchers in northeast Washington, puts riders on horseback (and in ATVs) out patrolling the grazing lands of cattle, protecting the animals from harm.  This time, for the first time since wolves were originally driven out of the area almost a century ago, the riders will be protecting the cattle from wolves.  Their work area now covers the territories of five confirmed wolf packs.

Some of the wolves are wearing radio collars, and their location information is being confidentially provided to the riders.  The riders are not hunting the wolves; they are intended to be part of a nonlethal predator control program, which includes complementary practices like fladry and the use of guard animals such as dogs.

This is the third year of the Range Rider program.  Even as wolf populations are increasing in the state, last summer ranchers reported an increase — as much as 100% — in the number of cows returning from summer grazing in wolf habitat.  The animals keep more weight and are less stressed, making life better both for the cattle and the ranchers.  One rancher, John Dawson, was quoted as saying, “We’ve lost nothing to wolves.”  Other livestock owners are beginning to take notice of the program as well.

The original article is located here.

This entry was posted in Wolf News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.