21 October 2010 Wolf Awareness Week: Defending wolves Posted by: John Motsinger | 2 comments | Share: Our efforts to restore wolves From Alaska to Arizona, Defenders is fighting to protect wolves and promote tolerance on multiple fronts. Whether upholding the Endangered Species Act in court or working directly with ranchers to prevent conflicts, we’re showing that it is possible for wolves, humans and other animals to coexist. In addition, we continue to work with partner organizations and wildlife experts to educate the public about the benefits of restoring wolves to their native habitats. Wolf Coexistence Partnership The Wolf Coexistence Partnership has become the cornerstone of our wolf conservation work by demonstrating ways that conservationists and ranchers can work together to minimize conflicts between livestock and wolves. The program promotes the use of nonlethal deterrents and best management practices, including: Range riders or cowboys to protect livestock Guard dogs to alert herders and range riders of nearby wolves Portable fencing or fladry (brightly colored flags strung across a rope or electrified wire that scare wolves) to secure livestock overnight Nonlethal hazing techniques, such as shining bright lights or firing a loud starter pistol, to drive off wolves Good husbandry practices, such as removing carcasses, which attract wolves Moving livestock to grazing pastures away from wolf dens Field technician Justin Stevensen uses radio telemetry to track wolves in the Big Wood River Valley of central Idaho. Photo by Jesse Timberlake. This year marked our third season working with three major sheep producers in central Idaho’s Wood River Valley, where 10,000 sheep move through the heart of wolf country during the summer. Our team of expert field technicians works to protect the sheep using livestock guard dogs, sirens, and portable electric night corrals made from lightweight turbo-fladry. (Read about the project in the Idaho Mountain Express). Defenders also helped sponsor Oregon’s first ever range rider project. A cowboy spent the summer and fall grazing seasons keeping watch over cattle, tracking wolf movements in the area and rounding up animals that stray too far from the herd. (Listen to the story on Oregon Public Broadcasting). Securing a better future for wolves Though legal battles are time-consuming and costly, they’re often the only way to hold our government accountable for flouting important environmental laws. This year we successfully argued to have federal protections restored for wolves in the Northern Rockies, following an illegal delisting decision put forth by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Raising awareness Wolf Awareness Week isn’t the only time we talk about the importance of protecting wolves. In the Northern Rockies, Defenders helped organize the Western Wolf Coalition to increase outreach and mobilize supporters for regional events year-round. Spreading our message in the media is important for raising awareness and combating misinformation. Spreading our message in the media is important for raising awareness and combating misinformation as well. That’s why we put together a Wolf Media Kit to help reporters better understand issues regarding wolf management. The following films have also been useful tools for reaching new audiences: Lords of Nature, a feature-length documentary appearing now on PBS (click here for local listings), explores the role of large predators on the ecosystems they inhabit. The film (see video trailer, right) shows how wolves and cougars help keep other species in balance by preventing animals from destroying plant communities that form the base of the food chain. Return to the Wild, a short documentary available for free download, explores the re-introduction of wolves in the Northern Rockies and the prospects for coexistence. Defenders partnered with Lionsgate for the release of Alpha & Omega, a fictional, animated film about wolves in theaters now. Compensating ranchers For 23 years, Defenders has paid ranchers for verified livestock losses to wolves. This program was instrumental in building tolerance for wolves within the livestock community. In fact, it was so successful that the federal government has now stepped in to help states set up and run their own compensation programs. (Read more about the transition here). Got a Question About Wolves? Email us your wolf questions any day this week, and we’ll respond with answers on Friday. Give the gift that gives back Give a Gift that Helps Save Wolves! Wolf adoptions are a great way to share your appreciation for these magnificent American icons while helping to support Defenders’ work on their behalf. Visit our Wildlife Adoption Center to adopt a wolf today! Take Action Now Visit www.savewolves.org to learn what you can do to help save America’s wolves. John Motsinger, Communications Associate John Motsinger is a Communications Associate at Defenders of Wildlife. He handles press coverage for critters in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains as well as Defenders' national work on the Endangered Species Act.