My post last week, "We Have Far More to Fear from Livestock than We Do from Wolves," evoked many comments. The post's premise: While ranchers claim that wolves threaten their existence and should be eradicated, the livestock production that ranchers make a living off of is killing the ecosystem that sustains the rest of us.
Many readers commented that they had already stopped eating beef or sheep. Some readers wrote that they were vegetarians or vegans. Still others wondered how they could continue to enjoy meat without supporting an industry that unnecessarily kills wolves, coyotes, and other predators.
Ranchers can keep livestock and predators separate and alive. Some actually choose to do so and become what is called predator friendly. Here's how being predator friendly works for Becky Weed and Dave Tyler in Belgrade, Montana. On the website of their Thirteen Mile Ranch, they write, "Our principal protection against native predators are our guard dogs and llamas and our own vigilance; because we have chosen not to use lethal control methods against coyotes, bears, wolves, mountain lions, our ranch is certified as 'predator friendly'."
Predator Friendly® certification is earned: an annual audit must find that the producer maintains and enhances wildlife habitat, employs a mix of nonlethal methods, and quickly adapts management practices when conditions change.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to living with predators, but here are some of the nonlethal methods that Predator Friendly producers employ:
- Using guard animals such as llamas, donkeys, and dogs
- Scheduling pasture use when predation pressure is low
- Grazing cattle with smaller livestock to protect sheep, goats, and calves
- Timing calving and lambing to avoid predation risk
- Lambing in sheds, secure fenced lots, or protected pastures
- Making frequent and unpredictable patrols in pastures
- Protecting vulnerable animals by fencing out predators
- Learning the ecology and habits of area wildlife
The Animal Welfare Institute says that the Predator Friendly program encourages livestock producers like Weed and Tyler to protect some of the most important habitat and species in the United States, while opening up a new market for their sustainable ranch.
One way we can support ranchers that choose coexisting over killing is by purchasing their Predator Friendly® products. Products sold from the Predator Friendly website include beef, bison, goat, lamb, turkey, eggs, and honey as well as sheep and cattle breeding stock.
Check out the Predator Friendly website
To learn more about ways that ranchers can keep livestock and wolves separate and alive, check out "Livestock and Wolves," the newest guide from Defenders of Wildlife. The principal author is Suzanne Asha Stone. Contributors include Carter Niemeyer, Linda Thurston and others.
Rick Lamplugh lives near Yellowstone's north gate and is the author of the Amazon Bestseller In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter's Immersion in Wild Yellowstone. Available as eBook or paperback. Or as a signed copy from the author.
Wolf photo CCO public domain via Pixabay