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CA: Workshop offers tips on preventing wolf-livestock conflicts

A workshop in Hat Creek, Calif., on June 14 will provide ranchers with an update on wolves in California and offer advice on how to protect their livestock from the predators.

Tim Hearden
Capital Press

HAT CREEK, Calif. — A workshop June 14 will give ranchers updates on the state’s wolf management plan and more tips on how to prevent conflicts between the predators and livestock.

Officials from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and others will discuss wolves’ return to California and how ranchers can prepare.

The 9 a.m. workshop at the Hat Creek Volunteer Fire Department Hall will include advice on what to do in the case of a depredation and how to use range riders to determine if wolves are in the area.

The event will also feature demonstrations of how to install fencing, flashing lights and other devices to protect livestock, said Paul Kjos, Shasta County’s agricultural commissioner.

“There was a request from a number of producers who wanted a little more detail” about mitigation measures, Kjos said.

“A lot of folks are asking ‘What do we do?’” he said. “This gives them … some definite tools you can use to try to keep the separation between predators and livestock.”

The county is joined in hosting the workshop by APHIS, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Shasta County Cattlemen’s Association, the Shasta County Farm Bureau and the Pacific Wolf Coalition.

The workshop is similar to a series of meetings held last year in Northeastern California to teach ranchers how to prevent depredation. The meetings sought to merge ranchers’ expertise about their livestock and land with science-based knowledge of wolf biology and behavior, organizers said.

State and federal protections make it illegal to kill or hunt wolves in California, even in the case of livestock depredation. Wolf advocates and state officials have been promoting nonlethal means of warding off wolves, including using guard dogs, motion-sensor lights, brightly colored flags or range riders or providing supplemental feed to livestock to keep them away from grazing areas when wolves are known to be present.

Range riders go out several times a week looking for tracks, scat or other signs of wolves or other wildlife that could harm cattle. The idea is that a human presence can divert wolves away from cattle or move cattle away from wolves if possible, riders have said.

The latest workshop comes as California finalized its wolf management plan in December, guiding conservation and management efforts as a wolf population takes hold. The month marked the five-year anniversary of the arrival of OR-7, the first known gray wolf in California in 87 years. OR-7 now lives in Oregon.

The all-day workshop at Hat Creek is free and includes lunch, but an RSVP is required. Call (530) 224-4949.