Defenders in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains

Key Accomplishments

  • From 1987 to 2010, Defenders pioneered a wolf compensation program to reimburse ranchers for livestock lost to wolves. In 23 years, we invested more than $1.4 million in an effort to build trust and promote tolerance within the livestock community.
  • In 1998, Defenders began working with ranchers to reduce livestock losses to wolves. The Wood River Wolf Project, started in 2008 to pilot nonlethal deterrents and other methods of reducing conflict between wolves and livestock, has proven to be a phenomenal demonstration of these efforts. Over four years, we’ve lost only a handful of sheep out of more than 10,000 that move through summer pastures each year in the heart of central Idaho’s wolf country. We have now  expanded our Coexistence Partnerships program to reduce conflicts with other species such as grizzly bears, bison, and prairie dogs.
  • Defenders proposed a prairie dog relocation to the Thunder Basin National Grassland in eastern Wyoming as an alternative to poisoning and shooting. Since 2010, we’ve been working with grassland biologists, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Humane Society to move prairie dogs away from neighboring ranches to the middle of the grassland where they can thrive and support a population of endangered black-footed ferrets—our next priority for this area.
  • Defenders has successfully led efforts to conserve smaller, lesser known predators of the Rocky Mountains. We helped secure Endangered Species Act protections for lynx in 2000, and critical lynx habitat in 2010. We won recognition for wolverines in 2011 that they need Endangered Species Act protection with a final ruling scheduled for 2012 or 2013.
  • Defenders has protected hundreds of thousands of acres of the woodland caribou’s last occupied habitat in the United States. Successful litigation in 2007 resulted in the closing of key areas to snowmobiles, and our petition to protect critical caribou habitat took effect in 2011.
More on Defenders in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains: Meet Our Team »

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Grizzly Bear, © Karen Willes
Fact Sheet
The grizzly bear is a large predator that is different from black bears due to a distinctive hump on its shoulders. Grizzly bears have concave faces and long claws about the length of a human finger.
Fact Sheet
Called "skunk bear" by the Blackfeet Indians, the wolverine is the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. It has a broad head, small eyes and short rounded ears.
Canada Lynx, © Jean Pierre Grosemans
Fact Sheet
The lynx is a medium-sized cat characterized by its long ear tufts and short (bobbed) tail with a black tip. It has unusually large paws that act as snow shoes in very deep snow and its thick fur and long legs make it appear larger than it really is.