FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 3, 2019
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New cooperative efforts to use nonlethal methods now in use and working to prevent conflicts between livestock and wolves
St. Paul, Minn.— In an effort to reduce the number of wolf conflicts with domestic animals and the number of wolves removed in response, Howling For Wolves began a partnership in mid-July, 2019 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Wildlife Services (WS) for a cooperative wolf damage management effort in the state of Minnesota.
Nonlethal deterrents were deployed by WS at a location where wolves were regularly observed and heard at a rural residence within Mille Lacs County. Six young wolves were repeatedly observed within 50 yards of a family’s residence. To address the concern, WS deployed approximately a half mile of fladry and three anti-predator lights around the perimeter of the residence. Since then, the residents have not seen or heard the wolves.
The recently established cooperative effort between APHIS WS and Howling For Wolves provided one mile of fladry which may be used in 2019 and 2020 in an attempt to reduce conflicts with wolves at a limited number of sites in Minnesota. Fladry is a line of brightly colored flags hung from a rope which may be electrified and when deployed serves as a barrier to deter predator access to areas where their presence may lead to conflicts with humans and domestic animals. Because wolves are often wary of new items in their environment, the use of such barriers may serve as a nonlethal method to reduce wolf conflicts with humans and domestic animals. Fladry may be an effective tool to deter wolves from vulnerable domestic animals or prevent wolf conflicts in areas where its use is feasible and practical.
Under this cooperative effort, WS and Howling For Wolves will be working with a limited number of livestock producers in MN who agree to initially deploy fladry as an alternative to using lethal control methods to prevent livestock predation by wolves. Howling For Wolves will provide the fladry and WS will provide the stakes and solar powered energizers for electrifying the fladry at the selected sites. The effectiveness of the fladry as a wolf deterrent will be monitored and evaluated where deployed.
Under federal Endangered Species Act protections, wolves in Minnesota and the Great Lakes region may not be harmed or killed without federal authorization. In Minnesota, wolves may be euthanized by government employees when livestock predation by wolves has been verified. In 2017, there were 89 verified wolf complaints at 76 sites in MN. In response, 199 wolves were removed by WS at those sites as part of an integrated wolf damage management program. Existing state funds are available to compensate farmers for livestock killed by wolves, provided the incident is reported and verified.
Other nonlethal prevention methods recommended to reduce wolf/livestock conflicts include alarms or scare devices, livestock protection animals, reducing attractants such as carcasses, and human presence.
Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling For Wolves, a Minnesota-based wolf advocacy organization, said: “While livestock losses from wolf predation are relatively low in Minnesota, reducing the losses of livestock (and wolves) is critical to helping Minnesota’s farmers, wolves, and communities co-exist and thrive.”
Howling For Wolves educates the public about the wild wolf to foster tolerance and to ensure the wolf’s long-term survival. Howling For Wolves opposes recreational wolf hunting and trapping and all wildlife snaring. We advocate for nonlethal prevention methods that reduce wolf-livestock conflicts and support current federal protections for the wolf. www.HowlingForWolves.org.
The mission of USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) is to provide Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist. WS conducts program delivery, research, and other activities through its Regional and State Offices, the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) and its Field Stations, as well as through its National Programs.