A word from Jamie.
© Krista Schlyer
We will soon know the fate of gray wolf management throughout the majority of this country. If the federal government shamefully abandons its conservation responsibilities for this magnificent animal, the battle will surely move on to the federal courts. While we wait for the next chapter to unfold, Defenders is engaging in other avenues to support the wolf’s survival and recovery.
One of our most important and successful efforts has been our focus on coexistence. Ever since wolves were back on the western landscape, Defenders has been helping ranchers implement nonlethal solutions to prevent wolf attacks on livestock, such as range riders and guard dogs to patrol for wolves. We also use other tools such as fladry, strips of colored plastic hung from a line, which is amazingly effective in keeping wolves away from livestock.
Coexistence strategies have moved ranchers who have adopted them from being strongly opposed to wolves to saying that “wolves are here to stay, and we have to learn how to live with them.” This is important wolf conservation, and with every new participant comes yet another opportunity to influence neighbors.
Defenders is also focused on the state level, working with legislators and agency officials to help shape state laws, policies and programs that will better ensure long-term wolf sustainability, like the innovative coexistence plan in Oregon and the wolf-management plan in Washington state, both adopted in 2011.
The states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are not the only agencies that manage wolves. Wildlife Services, a little known but important federal agency within the Department of Agriculture, does, too. This agency is responsible for dealing with wildlife-predation conflicts. The mission and vision statement for the agency stress coexistence. But its field agents are much more likely to use lethal solutions than not. Our goal is to shift the agency’s actions from lethal to nonlethal. Changing the culture of an agency is hard work. It will take time, but I firmly believe that it can happen.
By taking this three-pronged approach, Defenders will continue to do everything within our power to advocate for and promote the further recovery of wolves.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, President