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Fencing, Bright Lights and Loud Noises Keep Wolves at Bay

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June 29, 2009

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Bright lights, brightly-colored fencing and loud noises are three things wolves really dislike, and they're being used in three strategies deployed near Sun Valley, Idaho, to protect sheep and other livestock. Ranchers and state and federal agencies have been experimenting with non-lethal methods to keep wolves at bay. So far, they're finding success - and the program could be copied in Wyoming. Last year, only one sheep of some 10,000 in the Idaho program area was lost to a wolf.

Mike Stevens at Lava Lake Lamb and Livestock company is participating in the program.

"Generally, we have found that the pro-active approach is very helpful, and really, it's going to be essential, longer term, to coexist with wolves in the region."

Stevens says the downsides to the approach are that they're labor-intensive and, while sheep losses are fewer, there's been an increase in wolf attacks on sheep guard dogs, which he says is upsetting.

Wolves are the stars of attention whenever they kill sheep in Wyoming and other wolf states, but Stevens says they're not the only predators livestock operators are learning to live with on the landscape.

"Mountain lions, black bears, coyotes; we have the full range of predators, so we certainly have losses."

The Western Wolf Coalition reports that while 314 head of livestock were lost to wolves last year, between 5,000 and
10,000 head are taken by other predators each year.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY