Pine Valley has typically been a very tranquil place to live. There is a lot of ranching here. With ranching comes challenges. In April, local ranches came face-to-face with one of those challenges. Wolves have taken up residence in our valley and the surrounding area. With wolves came depredations. Calves and cows were wounded and ultimately, some died.
As a local rancher, my husband and I were in the middle of this depredation. We didn’t know how to protect ourselves, our livestock, and ultimately our livelihood against this challenging predator. We struggled and stumbled along, feeling totally inadequate. We got through the spring by trial and error. We knew we needed to find a way to better prepare ourselves for the coming spring.
Images of calves attacked by wolves at Shella’s place. NOTE the images are gory so we have put them behind this link.
In September, we were offered that opportunity. Defenders of Wildlife were willing to send both of us to Tom Minor Basin near Gardner, Montana. We attended the four-day Range Rider workshop, looking for answers. What we found was hope for the future, in the form of Hilary and Andrew Anderson. From there the rest is history.
It has been a while since I have posted an update. Our wolves are ever evolving as is our ranching way of life. Baker County where we reside has gone from 2 packs to 4 packs of wolves now and numerous other singles wandering. Wish my cattle ranch could expand as fast as the wolf population is! To say that our new life is a challenge is an understatement. Barry and I are making plans to attend another workshop in Montana this fall. We have found these workshops to be extremely helpful. I am still willing to set up a workshop in your area so contact me with your needs.
Barry and I were very fortunate to attend the Human Wildlife Co-existence Summit at Chico Hot Springs, Pray, Montana last fall. I can’t say enough good things about this. In our little piece of the world has issues but rest assured the rest of the world has the same or worse issues with wildlife than we do. We are not the lone soldier.
The following is copied from the Summit report and best sums up the summit.
“About the Summit
The field of human-wildlife coexistence is often siloed with limited opportunities for collaboration, networking, sharing stories and discussing challenges. To address this gap, Defenders of Wildlife hosted the Human-Wildlife Coexistence Summit on October 22-24, 2019, in Pray, Montana. The Summit focused on building powerful new partnerships, fostering mutual respect among stakeholder groups, and discussing ways to advance coexistence to benefit wildlife, people and the environment. It provided a much-needed platform for discussing social and pragmatic best practices for achieving sustainable and resilient coexistence, networking and exchanging ideas, identifying areas of key need, and exploring areas of potential future collaboration.
The Summit brought together coexistence experts, thought leaders and practitioners from across the world who helped shape the invitation list, structure of the Summit, and discussions. The Summit had almost 100 participants drawn from a wide variety of practitioners involved in human-wildlife coexistence, including biological and social scientists; wildlife and livestock managers; state, federal, and tribal government representatives; conservation groups and coexistence practitioners.
The sessions included short talks by selected attendees to set the stage for each topic, followed by small group discussion and reporting back. Topics of discussion ranged from community engagement and funding for coexistence to partnerships and evaluation. Much of the discussions focused on human-carnivore coexistence, but they also included coexistence with other species like prairie dogs, beavers, bison, and sage grouse.
The event provided an exciting opportunity for attendees to hear different perspectives and forge new relationships with people from different sectors and different parts of the world.
As a result, 12 working groups were formed to advance ideas discussed at the Summit and to broaden engagement with even more stakeholders.
Many thanks to all the attendees whose time and generous contributions increased our collective knowledge of what coexistence strategies are working well and where improvement is needed.”
A special thank you for Defenders for getting this together and to all of the attendees.