The Wood River Wolf Project has provided many benefits with great potential for use in other areas where wolves and livestock are present.
Finding Common Ground
The Wood River Wolf Project demonstrates that even stakeholders with divergent interests can build collaborative relationships that wouldn’t exist otherwise by working together to find solutions for conflicts with wolves. This, in turn, reduces conflict among people about sharing the landscape with these predators—a win-win for all.
Inspired by the success of the WRWP model, wildlife biologists in other states and researchers from Europe and Australia are developing similar stakeholder-driven projects to address wildlife and livestock conflicts.
Since its inception in 2008, the Wood River Wolf Project has:
- Kept sheep losses to wolves at less than 1%, which is 90% lower than losses reported in the rest of the state.
- Kept the number of wolves killed by Wildlife Services in the Project Area at zero.
- Provided agencies and livestock cooperators with training in radio telemetry monitoring, turbofladry, sound and light deterrents, radio-activated alarm systems, carcass removal, and other nonlethal deterrent techniques.
- Co-sponsored wolf-livestock coexistence workshops with the Blaine County Commission to educate area ranchers, state and federal agencies, and international researchers about the project and measures that have led to near-zero losses of livestock in the Project Area.
- Served as a testing ground for nonlethal coexistence methods.
- Created a site-analysis system to collect data and recommend best practices for individual ranchers and land owners.
The project is also becoming one of the largest and most comprehensive wolf coexistence efforts in the country.
The Benefits of Cooperative Coexistence
The Wood River Wolf Project demonstrates that proactive prevention pays in many ways:
- Reduces livestock predation by wolves and other predators.
- Lessens the impact of livestock grazing on wolves and other predators.
- Contributes to the economic sustainability of the ranching community and reduces the cost of wolf-livestock management.
- Improves community support of ranching and conservation coexistence practices.
- Builds good working relationships and facilitates collaborative conflict resolution among stakeholders.
- Increases tolerance for wolves and other native wildlife.
- Enhances scientific knowledge through data collection, case studies, and field application of nonlethal methods.