Researchers work to reduce wolf conflicts
JACKSON, Wyo. - Removing a few problem wolves from a pack can dampen that pack's taste for livestock, at least in the short term, according to research presented during a recent public meeting.
Liz Bradley, a postgraduate researcher, studied wolf and livestock conflicts and found, in part, that wolves generally kill livestock in areas of elk populations.
She also said wolf packs that kill cattle have a high probability of killing again. Of packs where some wolves were removed after livestock attacks, 68 percent of packs killed again. But repeat attacks usually occurred about 250 days after the removal.
That shows partial pack removal may help ranchers get through grazing seasons, she said.
Another finding was that wolves kill more livestock if dens are near cows and sheep. Plugging dens in those areas is one way to reduce conflicts, Bradley said.
The presentation came last week before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 as part of a summer series of natural resource speakers at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.
Mike Jimenez, Wyoming wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said people who enjoy wolves may have a difficult time as recovery gives way to management. That generally means the killing of wolves, the next step in successful reintroduction.
"It's a hard thing to go from wolf recovery to wolf management because some people don't want to think about harvesting," he said. "We're out of habitat outside the park that doesn't have conflicts."
Wolves were reintroduced in the Yellowstone region in 1995 and 1996 as a way to restore balance to the ecosystem. But ranchers and outfitters, who fear for their cattle and the area's big game herds, have become increasingly alarmed by the species' rapid spread.
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