Western Landowners release new guide to reduce wildlife conflict
Santa Fe, NM (January 16, 2019) – Western Landowners Alliance (WLA)—a member-based nonprofit organization focused on advancing policies and practices that sustain working lands, connected landscapes, and native species—has released a wildlife guide produced by and for landowners and practitioners constructively engaged in one of the greatest conservation challenges of our time—how to share and manage a wild, working landscape that sustains both people and wildlife.
Historically, the relationship between ranchers and large carnivores—native predators capable of killing and eating livestock—in the western United States may well have been predominantly adversarial. The reality now is that some of the most outspoken advocates for peaceful coexistence with wildlife are the ranchers and landowners whose land provides critical habitat.
While WLA’s guide, “Reducing Conflict with Grizzly Bears, Wolves and Elk,” centers on the more well-known and publicized struggles between man and animal in the Rockies, the important lessons and knowledge are universal throughout the West. The resources and best management practices in the guide have been developed and informed by dedicated landowners, wildlife agencies, researchers and nonprofit organizations. Each of the contributors in this guide brings a wealth of real-world experience in ranching and wildlife management and knows first-hand the difference between what looks good on paper and what works on the ground.
Because much of the land that once provided continuous wildlife habitat in the valleys and foothills of the Rockies has been developed into cities, towns and residences, the remaining lower elevation, intermixed private and publicly owned working lands provide important seasonal habitat and key migration corridors. Despite the conflicts with rural agriculture, large carnivores and ungulates are generally better suited to rural working lands than to urban or residential areas. The private and publicly owned working landscapes of the American West are the last best place—indeed perhaps the last chance—for these large species to exist in the lower 48 states.
“Every year we’re adding more people and occupying more space in the West,” said Lesli Allison, executive director of Western Landowners Alliance, “and as humans encroach on wild places, we must acknowledge the impact and base actions and policies around science and what has proven to work. In some cases, best practices and knowledge sharing is the missing link.”
“This guide has been produced by and for landowners and practitioners constructively engaged in one of the greatest conservation challenges of our time and it will be successful if the knowledge and perspectives it contains help reduce conflict and prevent losses of livestock and wildlife. We also hope that it will open new ways of thinking and of relating to land, wildlife and one another,” said Allison.
The ranchers’ and farmers’ practices and lessons-learned presented in the guide include the value of collaborative discussions, real listening and developing shared goals with other groups and individuals interested in the conservation of large carnivores and ungulates. It is intended to help owners and managers of private working landscapes mitigate conflict and coexist with large wildlife by:
1. Summarizing scientific understanding of key aspects of ungulate and carnivore ecology and behavior.
2. Summarizing conflict mitigation strategies, tactics and programs available to landowners.
3. Assessing their effectiveness through interviews and case studies.
Contributing landowners and others share their thoughts on the effectiveness of strategies and programs and discuss additional knowledge, policy and funding needs. The guide also describes and references a few of the programs available through state wildlife agencies and NGOs to provide assistance, incentivize coexistence and mitigate conflict.
The Western Landowners Alliance is indebted to National Geographic Society for making this project possible; the George B. Storer Foundation, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, the Blackfoot Challenge and Heart of the Rockies for providing critical support during the production phase; and to the wise guidance and unfailing support of Rick Danvir, a founding member, advisor and the principal author of this guide.
–Western Landowners Association