The recent Capital Press article, “Resource managers seek wolf management unity” was an excellent, positive piece of reporting that offered some real solutions and not just the controversy and finger-pointing that too often dominates anything in the media that has to do with wolves.
I especially appreciated Washington Association of Conservation Districts President David Guenther’s call for bringing groups with differing positions together, including livestock producers and conservation groups, to support practical solutions that can work for livestock producers and wolves.
The article highlighted one of three range rider projects that Conservation Northwest, the organization I work for, has helped fund here in Washington. The positive results northeast Washington rancher John Dawson explained in the article, including reducing livestock depredations by wolves, are also being experienced by the two other ranchers using range riders that we helped fund on the eastern slopes of the Cascades this year. Range riding has also been used to successfully reduce depredations by wolves and bears in Montana for years.
Range riding is a traditional practice to reduce predator attacks on livestock that has gained new attention in recent years. In addition to the economic benefits associated with reducing depredations, some ranchers using range riders have reported increased cattle weight gain, more immediate identification of sick and injured animals, and better range utilization. Those benefits can help make it a more economically feasible tool.
Private dollars from groups like Conservation Northwest along with state funding to assist ranchers with giving proactive tools like range riding a try will continue to be an important resource.
We look forward to partnering with any groups or livestock producers to work together to make proven conflict avoidance efforts more available here in Washington in the coming years.