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Alliance Developing Non-Lethal Tools To Reduce Wolf Conflicts

POWELL BUTTE, OR -- A nearly $100,000 federal grant aims to help Oregon farmers and ranchers find new ways to prevent wolf depredations. Elli Gage, with Western Landowners Alliance, says wolves prey on livestock, often with deadly results, "And it’s not just killing them. It’s harassing them, and stressing them, and causing various stress-related production loss." She says wolves are very intelligent, "And they become habituated quickly. That means any kind of novel stimuli of flashing lights or loud noises, or even human presence, wolves become accustomed to that and it’s no longer as effective. Sometimes it’s no longer effective at all."

USDA awarded funding to the alliance to study non-lethal controls, including potential uses for new technology like "smart" game cameras that only activate when a particular species is present, "So, it can actually be programmed to capture images only of grey wolves." She tells KBND News, "Down the road, they will actually be able to ping the livestock producer in real time, let them know photos of wolves have been captured on their game cams." The work will primarily focus on Baker, Douglas, Grant and Wallowa counties.

Gage says the grant will offset the cost of additional range riding, which discourages wolf movement, and carcass management, to remove a common lure for wolves. She stresses lethal control should never be off the table but says this type of study could help secure long term funding for pursuing non-lethal methods.

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