Are you concerned about conflicts between wildlife and agriculture that so often result in the death of the hungry predators? If so, look to Benton County in northwestern Oregon, home to numerous farms and ranches as well as an abundance of native wildlife. This area is piloting an innovative program to promote coexistence between these often opposing entities.
Last week, this progressive county launched their Agricultural and Wildlife Protection Program (AWPP), opening up the opportunity for producers to apply for grants of up to $5,000 for non-lethal wildlife deterrents. This will be money well spent in my estimation!
A volunteer citizen advisory committee has spent months preparing the detail of the plan. Randy Comeleo, chair of the Agricultural and Wildlife Protection Program committee, is quoted as saying, “As part of our granting program, grant recipients will need to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of their non-lethal deterrents. As far as I know, the AWPP is the only county animal damage control program collecting detailed information from grant recipients on the effectiveness of different non-lethal methods and tools. This data will provide important information to help the County determine whether this program will move beyond a pilot phase, and to inform other prospective county programs.”
Imagine the potential outcome of this program, in Benton County and other places that follow their lead in seeking healthier solutions than the antiquated Wildlife Services approach of poisoning, trapping, and shooting animals that traipse onto ranches, farms, vineyards, and orchards. And as public lands continue to be threatened, we certainly need to amp up our use and knowledge of non-lethal measures to protect wildlife on private lands.
To learn more about the Benton County program review the AWPP website here. Their efforts include not only the protection of predators, but also raptors, beavers, and so-called nuisance animals. The AWPP will host an informative table at the upcoming Oregon Small Farms Conference in Corvallis on February 24th. A workshop is scheduled for March 17th, also in Corvallis, entitled Farming with Wildlife Workshop: Wildlife Friendly Methods to Reduce Conflict. Speakers lined up for this event include Camilla Fox and Keli Hendricks of Project Coyote and John Neimeister of Cattail Creek Lamb, a Global Animal Partnership certified producer. Jakob Shockey, Restoration Program Manager, Applegate Partnership and Watershed Council and owner of Beaver State Wildlife Solutions, will be on hand to install a beaver deterrent device during a field trip at the end of the workshop.
Attending this workshop will be an exciting learning experience and a great way to spread the word about effective non-lethal measures. Perhaps you can be the spark that ignites the implementation of this type of program in your county and in doing so, can help save the lives of thousands of native animals!
At the other end of Oregon, a producer that lost cattle to wolves is making good use of non-lethal measures to prevent further problems. The Mill-Mar Ranch near Prospect, Oregon, south of Crater Lake, is home to over 200 cattle. After the Rogue pack, the family of OR-7, otherwise known as Journey, preyed on three of the calves at this ranch, US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, John Stephenson, along with help from ODFW, Defenders of Wildlife, and others, installed over three miles of turbo-fladry around the perimeter of the pasture containing the cows. So far, so good. The wolves have been heard howling near the ranch but there have been no further depredations.
The Rogue pack has inhabited the area around the Mill-Mar Ranch for several years now and this is the first time problems have occurred. No one knows why things changed, but it may have to do with the size of the pack. OR 54, the only wolf collared in the family group, has since dispersed to California, making it a little more difficult to know exactly where the Rogues are hanging out.
I go out to the ranch periodically to help maintain the fence line and do my part to increase human presence in the area. I’m appreciative of the opportunity to be in the vicinity of the Rogue pack and play a small role in such a positive and so far successful endeavor.
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