Wolf, © Didier J. Lindsey

Learning to Live with California Wolves

Diverse voices come together to discuss living with California wolves in recent nonlethal workshop

I remember when California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife reported OR-7’s appearance in California in late December 2011. OR-7 was the first wild wolf in the Golden State in nearly a century. What an historic event! I never thought that would occur in my lifetime.

It wasn’t until we learned about the presence of our resident Shasta Pack just this past August that it hit me: California wolf country is a reality, and we have a golden opportunity to make a tremendous difference for this iconic species.

Nonlethal workshop, © Pamela Flick/Defenders of WildlifeBut with great opportunity comes great responsibility. It’s imperative that we make sure that all parties involved in wolf recovery – private landowners, ranchers, hunters, wildlife officials and local wolf advocates – work together to help Californians share the landscape with our newly resident wolves.

Wolf management is a sensitive topic for many, but the more productive, respectful dialogue we can have on the issue, the better. The recent nonlethal workshop in the small northern California town of McArthur is a great example. This was the first nonlethal workshop held in the northern part of the state, where wolves are now established. Since wolves are protected under both federal and state law in California, it is critically important for ranchers to know how to protect their livestock from conflicts with wolves by using proactive strategies. By making sure that sheep and cattle are safeguarded from predation by wolves through the use of these nonlethal tools, ranchers can protect their bottom line, plus there is less pressure to lethally remove wolves for killing livestock, as has happened elsewhere in the West.

Fladry and other nonlethal materials, © Pamela Flick/Defenders of WildlifeDefenders has extensive experience in developing and implementing tools to reduce conflict between wildlife and livestock in different regions of wolf country. We help ranchers use proven, nonlethal solutions to prevent attacks on livestock. It can be anything from using range riders to patrol for wolves, to electric fencing to keep grizzlies out of small pastures, chicken coops and bee yards. We also provide communities with resources to help minimize conflicts (like bear-resistant trash cans), and educate people on how to deal with wildlife encounters.

Across the country, our coexistence efforts have resulted in great outcomes for ranchers. At the workshop, I shared examples of these positive outcomes with more than 150 participants, who were actively engaged throughout the very long day. Many were interested to learn about the Wood River Wolf Project in central Idaho, where wolves have successfully shared habitat with the state’s highest concentration of sheep grazing on public lands – all with minimal livestock losses and no need to lethally remove wolves in the area.

I am pleased to report that Defenders and several of our conservation partners worked closely with Wildlife Services to organize and host this workshop. It’s no secret that Defenders has serious concerns about Wildlife Services’ lethal wildlife management strategies for wolves, particularly when it comes to lethal control to boost game populations. However, it is worth noting that the agency has recently ramped up its work to share information with ranchers about nonlethal prevention strategies to protect their livestock, not just here in California but in states throughout the west, including where we have the highest number of wolves and other large predators. This has been a welcome shift in Wildlife Services and one that we’d like to see more of well into the future.

While the workshop in McArthur was an incredibly important first step in California wolf recovery efforts, it is just the beginning. This year will bring even more opportunities to work with our ranching, conservation and government partners on this important and historical conservation opportunity in California. Through open communication and collaboration, it is my hope that we will all be able to find ways to live in harmony with wolves as they continue to make their return home to the Golden State.

Helping people coexist with wildlife

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9 Responses to “Learning to Live with California Wolves”

  1. Hector Silva

    Two wrongs don’t make one right!!! Please try to work with the suggestion and ideas to save our wildlife and land. Thank you

  2. Eugenia Rita Condos

    I’ve been a supporter of Defenders of Wildlife for about 20 yrs. +. I’ve just read “Learning to Live with California Wolves” and I’m most impressed by your plan to work with ranchers, etc. Wolves belong in the wild as they have been for thousands of years before they were practically exterminated. They are a top predator that keeps the balance of nature as it should be. Defenders of Wildlife has done more for wolves than any other Wildlife programs and I’m proud to be a member. I will be renewing my membership that I let slide due to serious illness in 2014. Thank you for all you do for these magnificant animals.

    • Defenders of Wildlife

      Eugenia, thank you for the kind words. We truly appreciate your support for us and the wolves!

  3. Sheryl Schroeder

    We need to protect these wolves at ALL costs! The time is now. Hunters and ranchers have eaten up land, killed off entire species and raped the natural landscape and then many of them have the nerve to call themselves “conservationists”. We need to protect these wolves, here in California, in Idaho, Wyoming and even Canada. It’s imperative. Wolves play a very important role in the balance of a healthy eco-system, the control of vermin, the health of elk, deer, moose, and others. NO MORE HUNTING!

  4. Bob Hixon

    I think it’s great to have the wolves return. They were a necessary part of a balanced ecosystem for thousands of years in the past. You can’t take a gear out of a wristwatch and expect it to work; and you can’t eliminate predators from nature and expect it work either. We own over 1,700 acres in Northern California . The wolves will take-out the weak/sick and old deer, and leave behind the healthy, fast and well-fed animals.

  5. Gerard

    Why do humans just go out and hunt wolves and any animal. It is so fing redicilus. Just why. What did they do to you. Help save the wolves.

  6. Alan

    I would live with wolfs I’ll be there king!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Arlene Cirocco

    We must save these beautiful animaks, who have a right to live their lives as much as any human!…they are a v ed y important part of the Eco System. When will humans behave!

  8. Gail F. Laudeman

    I live in the Hayward Hills, Ca. Have never seen a Wolf up here until anout 5 days ago. We live next to a fire lane. I was in the house at the kitchen window when I saw a Gray, white and brown wolf quickly come around our wood fence and into our yard. He/She came right into our backyard walking quickly and went back down on our hillside. He/she jumped over our retaining wall and went into the tall grass toward my next door neighbors property. I have 3 dogs myself. Luckily they were in the house. Usually when an animal comes onto our property they go nuts…but not this time. Not even 1 bark. I hope we get another chance to see him or her. What a beautiful animaL..

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