We built on the existing capacity of a nongovernmental organization called the Blackfoot Challenge to proactively address wolf (Canis lupus)-livestock conflicts in the Blackfoot Valley of Montana. Beginning in 2007, wolves started rapidly recolonizing the valley, raising concerns among livestock producers. We built on an existing program to mitigate conflicts associated with an expanding grizzly bear population and worked within the community to build a similar program to reduce wolf conflicts using an integrative, multi-method approach. Efforts to engage the community included one-on-one meetings, workshops, field tours, and regular group meetings as well as opportunities to participate in data collection and projects. Initial projects included permanent electric fencing of calving areas and livestock carcass removal to address the threat of grizzly bears and, later, wolves. Subsequently we used intensive livestock and wolf monitoring through range riders in an attempt to reduce the frequency of encounter rates among wolves and livestock. Although we cannot claim causation from our efforts, results are encouraging. Confirmed livestock losses to wolves from 2006-2015 have been 2.2 confirmed depredations per year across nearly 50 ranches on about 3,240 km2 that are annually grazed by 16,000-18,000 head of livestock. Fewer than three wolves per year have been removed (2.4 wolves per year) due to these depredations for the same period as the population increased from one confirmed pack to approximately twelve. Our collaborative approach and prior experience with grizzly bears was key in building a proactive program to help reduce conflict with wolves in a community adjusting to an increasing large carnivore presence over a short period.
Wilson, Seth M.; Bradley, Elizabeth H.; and Neudecker, Gregory A.
"Learning to Live With Wolves: Community-based Conservation in the Blackfoot Valley of Montana,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 11
, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol11/iss3/4