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Workshop Offers Ore. Ranchers New Perspective on Wolves

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The workshop on ranchers and wolves is exploring such topics as range-riding and wolf behavior. (Defenders of Wildlife)
The workshop on ranchers and wolves is exploring such topics as range-riding and wolf behavior. (Defenders of Wildlife)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR - Producer, Contact
January 11, 2019

HALFWAY, Ore. – Ranchers and wildlife managers are gathering in Oregon to discuss creative solutions for avoiding conflicts with wolves.

The workshop is in its second and final day in the northeast Oregon town of Halfway. Hilary Anderson, who raises cattle in Montana, will be talking about some of the techniques she and her husband use in their wolf- and grizzly-bear-dense area for effectively avoiding losses.

Shella DelCurto, a rancher near Halfway, visited the Andersons' operation with her husband last year after losing a calf to a wolf attack, and decided to organize this workshop. She says there isn't a single strategy that works for everyone.

"You can take bits and pieces of this program out with you and maybe they'll help you,” say DelCurto. “And that's the goal is just to give the ranchers some hope that they can still keep surviving, because this is a wonderful family way of life."

DelCurto says it's important for ranchers to be proactive rather than reactive. She adds one of the workshop's goals is to bring ranchers together so they can discuss this issue and possible solutions amongst themselves.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are also in attendance and co-sponsoring the workshop.

Suzanne Stone, senior Northwest representative with Defenders of Wildlife – one of the groups sponsoring the event – says the Andersons' methods work, even though they ranch on the wild outskirts of Yellowstone National Park.

One of their tips is managing livestock carcasses, which attract wolves. Another is known as low-stress cattle handling. Stone says this method restores a herd's natural behavior, helping cows become less vulnerable to wolf attacks.

"Part of it is trying to mimic nature,” says Stone. “Being able to use a more high-intensity grazing practice but low stress on the livestock and then, helping rebuild the herding instinct within the cattle, so that they themselves are more defensive about their young and each other."

The workshop also is exploring range-riding, the profitability of different management techniques and wolf behavior.

Wolves account for a small fraction of livestock deaths each year. Stone says many ranchers, conservation groups and state agencies want to work together in events like these rather than continuing to fight over wolf management.

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