Idaho Mountain Express: Lava Lake Institute takes lead on wolf project

Since 2008, the Wood River Wolf Project has used nonlethal predator deterrents to maintain a much lower rate of depredation on sheep in the Big Wood River drainage than occurs elsewhere, as well as to keep wolves alive.

The project had been led since its inception by the nonprofit group Defenders of Wildlife, and particularly by the group’s Northern Rockies representative, Suzanne Stone. But Shawn Cantrell, Northwest program director with the organization, said Defenders decided that after seven years of leadership, it was time to pass that role to a local entity. 

“It allowed us to free up some more of Suzanne’s time and to pursue the wolf effort on other fronts,” Cantrell said. “As a national organization, we’re saying how can we take this and ramp it up to a larger scale.”

The leadership role has been taken over by the Lava Lake Institute for Science and Conservation, a nonprofit organization founded by Brian and Kathleen Bean, co-owners of the sheep-producing business Lava Lake Land & Livestock. The institute works to accomplish conservation and increase understanding of the wildlife and ecosystems of the Pioneer Mountain-Craters of the Moon region.

“This is a big transition for the project,” Brian Bean said.

Bean said the institute’s nonprofit status allows people to make tax-deductible contributions directly to the Wood River Wolf Project.

“We are seeking private donations, though fundraising hasn’t begun in earnest,” he said.

Bean said he plans to use crowdfunding and other social-media sources. He said he has also been talking with other conservation organizations to become partners in the project.

“There is a significant degree of interest,” he said, “which is a testament to the project’s success in the past.”

See the rest of the article in the Idaho Mountain Express here.