Wood River Wolf Project Expands: Wolf Hotline Opens Today
KETCHUM, Idaho - A project north of Ketchum designed to test and demonstrate tools and methods for coexistence of sheep and wolves is expanding this year. It's now available to all interested ranchers and livestock producers in Blaine County, and a hotline has been set up for those who want help.
The Wood River Wolf Project for the past four years has demonstrated successfully how non-lethal methods can be used so wolves and sheep can live in the same countryside, even when sheep are grazing on large tracts of public land.
Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen says not all ranchers know what's possible. He admits that there are others who don't believe the methods will work for them, but he wants them to give it some thought.
"The project is there and it's available to any rancher, any livestock producer, who is interested in learning and practicing these non-lethal deterrent techniques."
Schoen says he often hears people criticize the coexistence methods by citing the cost, but he calls that a false economic argument.
"You can't simply say that nonlethal deterrent is costly without saying lethal control is costly; loss of livestock is costly. So, let's take the full measure of the economics."
The project is a collaboration involving Blaine County, several sheep producers, Defenders of Wildlife and federal agencies. Blaine County is the first in the nation to adopt non-lethal coexistence wolf strategies as part of its public policy.
A new wolf hotline is open today - 1-855-5-WOLVES - a number ranchers in Blaine County can call for immediate assistance through the project. Coexistence tools include electrified portable flag fence, called turbo fladry, used to corral sheep at night; human patrols; livestock protection dogs; and noisemakers. A tool guide is available at www.defenders.org.