Conservation Northwest


Conservation Northwest protects and connects old-growth forests and other wild areas from the Washington Coast to the British Columbia Rockies, vital to a healthy future for us, our children, and wildlife. Since 1989, Conservation Northwest has worke

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Conservation Northwest updates Wolf-livestock conflict prevention Wolf recovery is going well in Washington. Wolves first returned in 2008, and today there are an estimated 51 to 100 wolves in our state. The big news this year was arrival of a new pack in the Cascades: the Wenatchee Pack. Of the three Cascades packs (an estimated 20 wolves), only the Teanaway Pack has a known breeding pair. Yet we are optimistic that this could change for the Lookout Pack and the new Wenatchee Pack. In northeast Washington, recovery is well on track with ten packs. The Southern Cascades/ Olympics recovery area, however, still needs wolves to meet the goals of the state wolf plan. To effectively recover wolves, Conservation Northwest is committed to helping those who are affected most by their return— ranchers and others in rural Washington. Wolf recovery demands tolerance as well as tools for conflict prevention. In 2012, Conservation Northwest invested more than $50,000 of our own money and staff time on a pilot range rider program that has delivered success for those living and ranching in wolf country. We plan to increase that investment this year. Gray wolf. Wikimedia Commons Just-passed legislation for a vanity license plate will help fund conflict prevention. But we've much more to do, including countering a move by the federal government to delist all wolves in the lower 48, including those in the Cascades and throughout Washington. Our eyes remain on the prize: recovering wolves in our state and making living with wolves in Washington possible. —Erin Moore Jay Kehne Okanogan outreach associate, A range rider update When the cows come home We left you hanging in the fall 2012 newsletter: "The real proof of whether our pilot range rider program can help ranchers in Washington won't be known until the cows came home later this fall." We had partnered with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to fund a range rider—the first in Washington—at the Dawson Ranch in northeast Washington during the 2012 grazing season. The Dawson's 250 cow/calf pairs are turned out onto their Forest Service grazing allotment in early June. They also run 350 cow/calf pairs on private property adjoining the allotments, smack dab in the middle of Smackout wolf territory. The Smackout Pack at the time had eight to ten known members. During the summer of 2011, without a range rider this ranch family believed they lost at least eight calves to wolves or other predators. Their figures showed 10% weight loss, likely because livestock 10 Spring-Summer 2013 don't eat as well with wolves around testing or running the herd. In June of 2012, the range rider, Leisa Hill, immediately went to work, setting up a trailer camp right among the cows. That season she put over 4,500 miles on horseback and a four-wheeler to remote roadless locations. Her job? Disrupt patterns of interaction and keep harassment and predation from happening. Leisa received daily telemetry wolf location data from WDFW to guide her day's work. And she was relentless. Her attitude of "no cows will die on my watch" never let up. When she had to go to town for supplies, other ranchers on the family ranch stepped in to cover the never-ending "herd supervision" work known as range riding. Well, the cows did finally come home last fall—every last one of them, with no losses to wolves or, for that matter, any other predator. After weighing the cattle, the Dawsons were proud to report some of the best weight gain they could remember after any grazing season on their allotments. A Forest Service range use study completed immediately after the season ended noted excellent use of the available forage with very high marks for proper range utilization. John Dawson put it this way, "ln 2011, the wolves were running our ranch and our cattle. In 2012, we took back control of the grazing and our ranch from the wolves." With this in mind, the Dawsons are eager to extend the pilot for another year, and Conservation Northwest plans to contribute funds to that effort for the 2013 grazing season. In the meantime, using the experiences from the Dawson Pilot, Conservation Northwest has begun working with another rancher farther south in Teanaway Pack territory in the Cascades to set up a similar herd supervision effort. Will these efforts work again? We all have high hopes, but the proof will be "when the cows come home this fall."

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