Defenders in Action: Wolf Coexistence Partnerships

Defenders has helped pioneer practical solutions to help livestock and wolves coexist. We’re working with ranchers in the southwest United States and Mexico to develop nonlethal deterrents, better animal husbandry practices and other innovative tools that minimize conflict and build social acceptance for wolves. Over the years, we’ve helped numerous ranchers purchase electric fencing and guard dogs, hire range riders and deploy scare devices to keep wolves away. These proactive methods help protect livestock—and wolves.

The Problem

While wolves typically hunt for wild animals such as elk and deer, they will occasionally prey on livestock when a good opportunity arises. If a wolf becomes habituated to preying on livestock it can be very hard to break the habit, and the wolf is often killed as a result.

How We’re Helping

Defenders of Wildlife has a long history of improving the capacity of communities and individuals to manage wolves. Our early “Wolf Guardian” program provided extra help to the field team and ranchers when Mexican wolves were released, and several of our guardians have gone on to become wolf managers or wolf researchers in the US and Mexico.

Where We Are Today

Our wolf coexistence programs continue to grow as more ranchers become interested in trying new ways to minimize conflicts.  Defenders and local landowners are innovating together, using timed calving, shared range riders, and turbo-fladry to keep livestock and wolves safe.  State and federal agencies are also following our lead and putting more resources toward lowering conflict rather than removing wolves.

Learn more about Defenders' work to help wildlife and people coexist in our Living with Wildlife section.

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Press Release
"While the increase comes as good news for these highly endangered animals, the small population of 58 lobos is still extremely vulnerable. Wolves are smart, adaptable animals, but they can’t make it alone. New releases of wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are urgently needed to ensure a healthy population." - Eva Sargent, southwest director, Defenders of Wildlife
Where We Work
Our Southwest team works to protect rare and threatened species like Mexican wolves, jaguars and ocelots.
Grizzly Bear, © Ray Rafiti
Conservation Issue
We work to create and share strategies to encourage peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife.
Where We Work
Our Southwest team works to protect rare and threatened species like Mexican wolves, jaguars and ocelots.
In the Magazine
When it comes to endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest every one counts—and so do partnerships.
Fact Sheet
Mexican gray wolves once numbered in the thousands and roamed the wilds of the southwest. But today, after a century of persecution, only a few remain in the wild.