Nonlethal control measures take advantage of wolves’ natural wariness and suspicion of anything new and different in their territory.
The WRWP is putting together equipment to go into "Band Kits" that will accompany each sheep band so herders and volunteers can deploy them when wolves are nearby.
Increasing human presence at sheep bands is the most effective way to keep wolves away. This is why the WRWP is coordinating to have groups of volunteers to be on-call to go and camp with the sheep when wolves are nearby. The scent and sounds of humans make wolves wary. We need to build our volunteer base for this project to be effective. Please see our Volunteer page to get involved.
- Don’t trail your sheep over the top of known den or rendezvous sites!
- If possible, and range conditions permit, avoid areas of current and recent historical wolf activity during the grazing season.
- Temporarily reduce the number of guard dogs per band during the wolf pupping season to avoid predator protective response - a natural, temporary impulse on the part of pack members to protect new pups from any perceived dangers.
How to Use Nonlethal Tools and Techniques Properly
Because wolves will become habituated to individual deterrent:
- Do not deploy deterrents unless needed
- Do not use any single deterrent for an extended period
- Use a mix of deterrents
- Don’t use all your deterrents at the same time
- Change the mix regularly
- Adjust the mix to suit the situation
Livestock Guardian Dogs
Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) breeds have been used for centuries to protect livestock from predators. The most well-known of these breeds in the United States are the Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, Akbash and Maremma. On sheep ranches, guard dog puppies are usually kept in a barn or a pen with a few ewes to ensure that they bond with sheep. They learn from their mother and other older dogs to sound the alarm when predators are nearby, and to fiercely guard their sheep.
Out on the range, guard dogs are often outfitted with collars spiked with long nails to help protect them if they should need to engage with wolves or other predators.
Guard dogs are often aloof toward strangers and their size alone is rather intimidating. Hikers and bikers may encounter guard dogs in the backcountry. Remember that when they bark aggressively they are doing their job; usually all that is needed to keep them at a distance is a very firm, loud “No!”
Guard dogs are invaluable partners in the effort to reduce conflicts between livestock and wildlife.
Foxlights and Spotlights
Foxlights keep predators away by using a computerized varying flash that uses 9 LED bulbs that project 360 degrees and can be seen from 1 kilometer away. These lights make it appear that someone is patrolling with a flashlight, which keeps predators away. There are battery-powered and solar-powered Foxlights and we are using both. They were invented by Ian Whalan, an Australian farmer who wanted to keep foxes away from his lambs. Foxlights are being used all over the world to protect livestock from lions, snow leopards, wolves, foxes, and other predators.
High-powered spotlights, such as the one pictured on the left, are also an effective tool and can be used in addition to headlamps when the herders are keeping watch over the sheep at night.
Fladry and Turbofladry
Fladry is a string of flags on temporary stakes used to contain or exclude wild animals. In medieval times, it was used in massive hunts to funnel animals toward waiting hunters. These days, however, fladry is mostly used to keep animals away.
Fladry is a nonlethal control measure that takes advantage of wolves’ natural wariness and their suspicion of anything new and different in their territory. Put off by the motion of the flags, wolves shy from crossing a properly maintained fladry barrier, often for long enough to keep lambs and calves away from harm.
Like standard fladry, turbofladry consists of cording with colored flagging spaced evenly along its length. But turbo-fladry is strung on electric fencing material. It combines the effectiveness of non-electric fladry with the shock delivering power of an electric fence, so that if a wolf does overcome its initial fear of normal fladry and attempts to pass, a shock is delivered and reinforces the avoidance instinct.
Fladry is best used in certain environments and is not suitable for all situations.
Noisemakers are highly effective tools if used on an irregular basis so the wolves do not become conditioned to one type. The Project uses three different tools in our Band Kit.
The starter pistol (often used to start races or to condition hunting dogs to gunshots) makes a very loud noise that simulates a real pistol. It does not actually fire anything and takes .22 blanks. It is a safer alternative to bringing actual firearms into the backcountry and firing them at night. Not only is it safer for the herders, volunteers, and working animals, but also it reduces the chance of accidentally starting a wildfire.
Boomboxes or any kind of wireless speakers are great because you can blast loud music to scare the wolves away. The noise of the music is unfamiliar to the wolves and will make them wary of approaching the sheep band.
Airhorns are another effective tool. They are extremely loud and jarring, and will keep wolves away.