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Experiments Keeping Wolves at Bay in Central Idaho

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 By Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Contact
September 15, 2008

Ketchum, ID – Good fences make good neighbors of wolves. Several techniques are being tested such as portable fences, alarm boxes and trained field crew in Central Idaho's Wood River Valley to keep the wolves away from livestock.

Jesse Timberlake with Defenders of Wildlife says wolves have only attacked one sheep in that valley so far this year, compared to more than a dozen last year, when there were no defenses.

"We are penning the sheep each night in night corrals, and that is surrounded by a type of specialized fencing which acts as a psychological barrier to the wolves."

Timberlake says someone is always with the sheep, which also deters wolves because they avoid people. Additionally, they are using alarm boxes that are activated when a radio-collared wolf is nearby. Wolf attacks on livestock are listed as a major reason certain Idahoans want wolves out of the state.

Justin Stevenson is one of the field crew who watches for the wolves. He says even when wolves are not expected, it doesn't take much to encourage them to move along. Stevenson cites an recent day sighting as an example.

"I started moving that way, and before I even started to whistle, or yell, or use an air horn, they glanced over and saw me and turned around immediately."

More information on the wolf program is available online www.defenders.org.

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