Landowner Collaborative Strategies for Nonlethal Predator Control

Progress report for SW22-934

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2022: $349,951.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2025
Grant Recipients: Western Landowners Alliance; Heart of the Rockies; Montana State University; Utah State University; Colorado State University; Western Landowners Alliance
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jared Beaver
Montana State University
Dr. Stewart Breck
Colorado State University
Kyran Kunkel
Western Landowners Alliance
Dr. Julie Young
Utah State University
Hallie Mahowald
Western Landowners Alliance
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Project Information


Wildlife-livestock conflicts such as depredation by predators challenge the livelihoods of livestock producers (hereafter, ranchers). Protecting livestock from predators is a complex endeavor, and successful predator conflict mitigation practices require both an analysis of the efficacy of various practices and collaborative information sharing across invested stakeholders. Ranchers typically use an integrated management approach - deploying mitigation practices to reduce depredation risks and lethal techniques when mitigation practices fail and lethal control is authorized. Mitigation practices include human presence (e.g., range riders), deterrents (e.g., fladry), livestock management, and habitat manipulation, but there is limited scientific information on which practices are most effective and under what scenarios they succeed or fail. Ranchers also lack adequate resources to apply mitigation practices or share knowledge gained by experience. Through a diverse partnership of ranchers, scientists, conservation groups, and agencies with decades of experience with landowner collaborative strategies and predator conflict mitigation practices, we will research the effectiveness of range riding across western landscapes with grizzly bears and wolves, host opportunities for ranchers to exchange information about mitigation practices, and disseminate information from our research and exchanges via scientific papers, extension articles, and traditional and novel education and outreach programming.

We focus on range riding because this practice is of high utility to ranchers, yet riding strategies vary widely. How and what works best is unclear, inhibiting adoption by more ranchers. Our research will describe and quantify the types and efficacy of range riding strategies, while rancher-to-rancher exchanges will provide opportunities for foundational knowledge from years of rancher experience to be distributed more broadly. Published products will add scientific credibility to the findings and reinforce learning from exchanges through multiple and highly accessible outlets. By offering diverse outreach venues, we will facilitate new and improved use of predator conflict mitigation practices and add new users; we anticipate ranchers already using these practices to fine-tune their application for increased efficacy, while others will incorporate these practices into their management for the first time. Results of our study will create adaptive and integrative predator conflict mitigation practices disseminated to 600+ ranchers across 7+ states.

We will use an iterative process to ensure successful implementation to improve sustainable agricultural practices. Information will be continuously communicated among team members about the research, outreach, and rancher-to-rancher exchanges, which will result in incremental changes in coproduction processes and in how the practices are implemented by ranchers. This project will create transformative change in agricultural sustainability by supporting a community of practice to research range riding across diverse social and ecological contexts in different grazing scenarios. Importantly, this framework will then be applied to other mitigation practices and develop mechanisms for sustainable funding of such practices through NRCS administered Farm Bill programs. By continuously coordinating with NRCS personnel and ranchers about how our research can be applied to decision-making surrounding funding for ranchers, this proposed work has the potential to establish best practices for predator conflict mitigation that significantly improve sustainable agricultural production through incentivizing the adoption of proactive strategies.


Project Objectives:
  1. Improve ranch profitability through range riding, a predator conflict mitigation practice that is highly adaptable across diverse ranching operations.
    • Coproduce research to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of different range riding strategies across at least seven western states.
    • Incorporate data collected by researchers, ranchers, and local landowner groups to accomplish a robust evaluation of conflict reduction strategies.
  2. Expand and integrate effective range riding strategies with adaptive conflict mitigation programs through rancher-to-rancher knowledge exchanges to support an enhanced quality of life for ranchers, livestock, and wildlife.
  3. Elevate conservation planning and natural resources management within predator-occupied regions through co-interpretation and dissemination of project results on range riding and other conflict mitigation practices.
    • Synthesize research using metrics relevant to livestock production to indicate the value of range riding and other conflict mitigation practices to ranchers.
    • Provide data to NRCS to inform the development of new or modified conservation practices to incentivize broad adoption of conflict mitigation techniques.
  4. Disseminate and amplify the collective experience and knowledge gained through this project by providing highly relevant content through a combination of traditional outreach programming (workshops, seminars) and novel outreach products, including audio, print, and digital platforms.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Gary Burnett - Technical Advisor
  • Wyatt Hanson - Producer
  • Wyatt Hanson - Producer
  • Matt Hyde
  • Rae Nickerson
  • Rae Nickerson
  • Breanna Owens
  • Nelson Shirley - Producer


Materials and methods:

The goal of the project is to reduce the financial and social burden of expanding predator populations through evaluation of range riding practices and information sharing among ranchers about their experience with all predator conflict mitigation practices, leading to more resilient ranches and connected landscapes.

This will be accomplished through four objectives:

  • Improve ranch profitability through range riding, a predator conflict mitigation practice that is highly adaptable across diverse ranching operations;
  • Expand and integrate effective range riding strategies with adaptive conflict mitigation programs through rancher-to-rancher knowledge exchanges to support an enhanced quality of life for ranchers, livestock, and wildlife.
  • Elevate conservation planning and natural resources management within predator occupied regions through co-interpretation and dissemination of project results on range riding and other conflict mitigation practices; and
  • Disseminate and amplify the collective experience and knowledge gained through this project by providing highly relevant content through a combination of traditional outreach programming (workshops, seminars) and novel outreach products, including audio, print, and digital platforms.

Objective 1 focuses on research, while objectives 2-4 are primarily concerned with education and outreach, so they are described in detail in the educational section below. However, all the results and information we learn from reaching our research objective will be applied to the educational objectives. We will work to ensure the information is accurate and readily available to incorporate into objectives 2-4 using an iterative process. As we gain information from objective 1, we will incorporate it into the outreach materials, disseminate it at workshops, and discuss it at rancher-to-rancher exchanges. We will then get feedback from ranchers and other stakeholders through this process as to the clarity of information, the relevancy of these findings to their practices, and what other information is needed.

There are several steps to accomplishing our research objective. First, we will meet with individual ranchers and landowner groups. As part of our existing Conservation on Workinglands Conservation Innovation Grant for the past year, (CoW-CIG) we ran focus groups that met monthly or more frequently with ranchers from across the West to understand what value riding provided to them, how best to measure that value, and what methods would be useful and feasible to measure that value. Our existing funding allows us to examine the influence of varied rider strategies on 1) annual depredation rates, 2) historical indirect losses, and 3) chemical indicators of stress in cattle herds in an effort to improve rancher profitability through reducing conflict, enhancing stewardship through an improved understanding of how a rider can reduce cattle stress that leads to indirect losses, and improving overall quality of life for ranchers and their communities by helping to empower operational decision-making.

More specifically our primary research objectives (1-2) and hypotheses (ai - ii):

  1. Identify whether varied range riding activity alters behavioral indicators of stress in cattle;
    1. As rider intensity, time spent within proximity of the herd, and time riding at dusk, dawn, or at night increase,
      1. seasonal herd vigilance will decrease, and
      2.  average time spent in high-quality foraging areas will increase.
  2. Conduct unstructured interviews with livestock producers to capture the unique operational, environmental, and economic context driving decision making on husbandry techniques like range riding, and to capture the unique challenges of livestock production as related to predator conflict.

Objective 1: To examine the influence of varied rider activity on cattle behavior, we have been, and will continue to collect several data streams during the spring 2023 and 2024 grazing seasons across three operations - one in Washington, and two in Montana. These include data on rider activity, habitat features and forage quality/quantity, predator spatial use, and cattle behavioral activity. All of these operations have active wolf and grizzly bear populations.


Range Rider Data

For two grazing seasons, participating riders completed rider data sheets. We encouraged daily data collection but to accommodate time constraints of riders, we also allowed for weekly data collection (Nickerson_Daily_Rider, Nickerson_Weekly_Rider). Most riders also recorded their riding tracks in a GPS unit. Riders were trained each spring on data collection for both GPS units and data sheets that were provided at the start of the season. Rider GPS tracks will be used to compare rider landscape use and proximity to cattle location data (recorded by the rider) and carnivore location data. Rider data sheets provide data on 1) rider intensity (frequency and duration of rides, and how often a rider uses management in the field while riding such as moving cattle, fixing fence, etc.), 2) time within proximity versus away from the herd (and activity when away), 3) time of day or night riding, and 4) observations while monitoring the herd and of predator activity. Combined, these data comprehensively define rider intensity, use of the landscape, timing, and monitoring.


Environmental Data

Environmental data will be collected this fall and next spring through our producer partners and existing open-sourced data such as ArcGIS Pro, MODIS, Western Regional Climate Centers, and through data-sharing agreements with wildlife agencies. Examples of needed data include seasonal drought conditions, forage quality and quantity, water sources, whether herds are receiving supplemental feed, and alternative native prey densities. These variables of interest and covariates will be used to isolate the influence of varied rider behavior on herd behavioral stress from other potential stressors like heat, cold, illness, and distance to water.


Predator Data

We collected data on predator locations using three methods: 1) rider observations recorded via rider data sheets (see attachments), 2) data provided by wildlife agencies through data sharing agreements, and 3) game camera grids deployed on grazing allotments/pastures (already purchased). On each operation, we deployed 30 cameras in three grids of 10 cameras. Grid locations were selected based on areas of high use by cattle and were moved over the course of the season to match the timing of when cattle were moved to new grazing areas. Together, all three methods will provide a more robust understanding of predator presence than each could provide alone.


Cattle Behavioral Data

To explore the influence of riding on behavioral indicators of stress in livestock, and the potential influence of behavioral stress on weaning weights, reproduction, and illness, we have been measuring two metrics: 1) cattle vigilance, and 2) cattle landscape use behavior. Vigilance is the amount of time cattle spend moving or on the lookout for predators rather than eating, ruminating, or resting, all of which contribute to weight gain, reproductive success, and reduced illness [7]. We collected cattle vigilance data from camera trap photos of cattle captured via our existing camera trap grids (10 cameras per grid), and via rider observations recorded on rider data sheets. At the end of the season, all cattle photos will be categorized as either vigilant (head up above shoulders and not chewing, running) or not vigilant (head down at or below shoulders feeding, head up above shoulders chewing, walking, or lying down/resting/ ruminating). Because cattle are often in groups, we count the total number of individuals in each photograph and the proportion of cows, our cattle of interest, that are vigilant/not vigilant. Photos from last season (2022) are being coded now. Rider data sheets from last season are also being thematically analyzed for cattle behavior and given a similar scoring of vigilant or not vigilant. Thus, at the end of the season, each of the three herds will have 31 date-specific vigilance scores – a scoring for each game camera deployed, and a scoring from each recorded rider data sheet. Scorings will then be averaged to a daily vigilance score.

To collect livestock landscape use data, we deployed VHF collars and ear tags on three operations during this grazing season. VHF collars have allowed the riders to more easily locate and record cattle locations on rider data sheets, which will not only allow for improved cattle location data, but also a comparison between riders with, and without VHF assistance. We prioritized collaring lead cows at the three operations, with a minimum of 20% of each herd receiving a collar or ear tag. Cattle were collared at the start of the season with help from ranchers, riders, and their employees. Cattle location data will be used to evaluate the quality and quantity of forage available in areas where herds are spending most of their time. Furthermore, this information will be compared to the varied behavior of riders and predators to understand if riders reduce predator-induced stress in cattle, therefore improving foraging behavior that leads to higher weaning weights.

To map high-priority grazing areas at each of the three operations, we will use ArcGIS Pro and MODIS to map out areas of high forage quality (NDVI), forage quantity (NPP), and acceptable distance to water over all utilized allotments and pastures. We will then bring these maps to our producer and rider partners for confirmation and adjustment if needed. Where possible, priority areas will reflect seasonal changes in green-up based on the dates that livestock were present.

This will likely happen between grazing seasons (2023 and 2024).

By modeling both herd vigilance and herd landscape use/foraging behavior as a function of varied rider activity and varied predator activity, these data will allow us to answer the following research questions:


  1. Does varied rider activity influence the proximity of predators to cattle?
  2. Does varied rider activity influence vigilance in cattle?
  3. Does varied rider activity influence the quality of foraging areas used by cattle?


Cattle Chemical Data:

On seven ranches our first season (2022) and 11 ranches this season (2023), we collected hair samples from cow tails for cortisol and thyroid function analyses. We sampled at least 20% of the herd in both the spring and fall efforts. Fall samples from 2022 and spring samples from 2023 have yet to be analyzed by the Smithsonian, but spring 2022 cortisol samples from four of our ranches showed a wide range in cortisol levels across herds (see attachment). For this reason, we changed our sampling protocol to at least 20% of the herd from 10% to capture more inter- and intra-herd diversity.

By incorporating cattle behavioral analysis into our range riding methods, the potential influence of a rider on indirect losses can be more accurately determined, since it is likely that behavioral stress responses to predation risk have a larger influence on weaning weights, reproduction, and illness than chemical responses to stress alone. The analysis of both behavioral and chemical responses are needed to accurately model herd stress, and the methods outlined above will allow us to measure whether riders can improve cattle foraging time, resting time, and the quality of forage used by a herd.

Objective 2: As mentioned above, conflict reduction tools are often created and evaluated without the direct involvement of ranchers. This can result in tools being researched at inappropriate temporal or spatial scales, or testing within a limited scope that does not account for the diverse, complex, and sometimes limiting relationships between an operation’s social, ecological, and economic dynamics. In turn, this can result in tools or solutions that are not feasible to deploy or maintain, are cost prohibitive, or simply ineffective in certain contexts. The coproduction of our research questions and methods have ensured that our temporal and spatial scales are sufficiently diverse, but capturing qualitative data will be critical to ensuring our findings are representative of diverse landowner needs and circumstances.

To capture this complexity, we have been conducting unstructured interviews (Interview Questions CIG) with all 30+ of our producer and rider partners operating in Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, California, New Mexico, and Arizona - including all producer partners from the existing CoW-CIG, and the three additional producer partners involved in the research outlined above for Objective 1. All operations have active wolf populations, and operations in Washington, Wyoming, and Montana also have active grizzly bear populations.

Interview questions asked producers to reflect on riding as a tool, to describe their riding-related husbandry practices and operational protocols, identify production limitations that may influence the effectiveness of a range rider, and describe anticipated challenges to accurately analyzing riding’s potential. Ranchers were encouraged to lead conversations in whatever direction they would like, and interviews were recorded and transcribed for analysis. Transcriptions will be coded and analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Inductive thematic analysis is a qualitative data analysis technique where themes are derived from the data themselves as opposed to being predetermined, then categorized after data collection. We will categorize and code distinct responses until saturation of categories is met, and response frequencies achieved. Interview findings will be crucial to capturing the diverse and complex relationships driving rancher decision-making on the operation and provide the needed descriptions for the development of future technical and financial support programs like those provided by NRCS. So far, about 75% of our partners have been interviewed, and interviews will continue throughout the year.

Research results and discussion:

Research Objective 1: After all riders were trained on data sheets, GPS tracking, and how to use telemetry, 210 game cameras were deployed and moved to follow each herd across seven ranches during the 2022 season, and 390 cameras on 13 different ranches this grazing season (30 cameras per ranch). Spring cattle hair samples have been mailed to the Smithsonian for chemical stress analysis, and fall samples will follow this early winter. To date, over 600 cow hair samples have been mailed. Game camera photos from our first season (2022) have been cleaned so that the subset of photos containing cattle are easy to access for coding. They are currently being coded for cattle behavior analysis and predator activity, and over 200 rider data sheets were collected from riders last season and are being coded currently as well. VHF ear tags and collars were deployed on all three of our new ranches (one producer needed to be changed due to their decision to no longer use a rider), and riders are using telemetry equipment to collect information on cattle locations. Over 200 VHF ear tags/collars were deployed this spring on cows in New Mexico, Washington, Montana, and Oregon (New Mexico and Oregon ranches funded through separate but affiliated grants). Forage quality/quantity maps will be created between the 2023 and 2024 seasons and will be checked with producers. Lastly, we continue to work on data-sharing agreements with all states for predator location information and hope to have these agreements finalized by early spring of 2024.


Research Objective 2: Twelve interviews have been collected, and the remaining 5-10 will be collected this and next year. Transcription for analysis of interviews will start this winter and next spring.

Participation Summary
17 Producers participating in research

Research Outcomes

Recommendations for sustainable agricultural production and future research:

Although we are still collecting data and have not begun analyses, we are seeing trends from our interviews. Common themes from interviews with riders and producers across the west include: 1) Being unable to afford a rider if the costs were not somehow subsidized as they are for many producers by an agency (state wildlife management in WA for example) or an NGO (Defenders of Wildlife for example), 2) being unsure if riders are actually reducing conflict, but wanting a rider either way for the additional benefits a rider provides (communication across ranches, faster depredation detection, or catching other on-range issues like injury or illness for example), 3) that an effective range rider needs to have cattle experience, not just wildlife experience, and 4) that they have noticed reductions in both calf weights and cow reproduction since predator populations increased locally. As more data are collected and analysis can be conducted, we will be able to quantify these concerns.

6 Grants received that built upon this project
6 New working collaborations

Education and Outreach

3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Journal articles
8 Published press articles, newsletters
1 Tours
7 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days
1 Other educational activities: Working Wild University Podcast Season 1: Wolves in the West

Participation Summary:

5,000 Farmers participated
10,000 Ag professionals participated
Education and outreach methods and analyses:

Through the duration of this grant, we measured success through progress towards and achievement of the following grant deliverables including: 

  1. Annual structured meeting;  
  2. Regional workshops, clinics, and/or annual webinar series;  
  3. New podcast and video series;  
  4. Development of a “Toolkit” for Livestock Producers; and 
  5. Multimedia distribution to sustain and amplify these activities. 

Within the following section, we offer a summary of these proposed deliverables, methods of evaluation, and a brief summary of what has been achieved to this date to be expanded within the results section.

1: We will hold an annual meeting for each year of the project and a final meeting at the end of the project as opportunities to present results and engage the broad spectrum of project participants (individual ranchers, landowner collaboratives, NRCS specialist, extension specialist, USDA-WS, and state wildlife agencies). Metrics: Participation - 200 stakeholders annually. 

Annual Meeting: In 2022 and 2023, two meetings were held that convened diverse stakeholders, engaging the broad spectrum of participants within the effort to research the effectiveness of range riding, share resources, and identify durable cost-sharing opportunities. 

2: We plan to conduct yearly regional workshops and several range riding clinics for the three years of the project. These workshops will focus on synthesizing the latest research and producer-led presentations around “lessons learned” from the field surrounding range riding practices and/or other predator conflict mitigation practices (Objective 2). Metric: Surveys, participation. 

Four regional workshops were held by partner organizations Western Landowners Alliance and The Heart of the Rockies in Arizona, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming focused on range riding and other nonlethal tools to reduce predator conflicts. 

3: To increase the educational reach into communities, five additional tools have been noted as important components of the Extension toolbox: blogs, wikis, Facebook, YouTube, and podcasts [27]. Although the traditional forms of Extension program delivery will continue to play an important role, podcasts are poised to be one of the most effective forms of Extension education because information can be effectively distributed to global audiences without the need for in-person contact. Podcasts have a similar niche as webpages in that you only have to build it once, and the audience is limitless [26].  Metric: Building capacity and publishing/advertising season 1 of WWU

Within the first project year of this grant, the team was scheduled to release one season of the Working Wild U Podcast, as well as convene a media campaign to widely distribute the podcast. 

4: As we near project completion in year 3, we will synthesize results based on the evaluation of the effectiveness and costs of range riding and other predator conflict mitigation practices (Objective 1) and best management practices developed through rancher-to-rancher stakeholder learning at annual workshops (Objective 2). This synthesis will be used to design a user-friendly toolkit to guide and facilitate producer adoption of the most effective implementation approaches to predator conflict mitigation practices based on ranch-specific goals, capacities, and resource conditions. Metric: Completion of Guide. 

The timing for drafting and completing this guide is forthcoming. 

5: We will use multimedia to distribute information about outreach activities 1-4 to help amplify and scale outreach efforts in order to engage a larger community of predator conflict mitigation practice users and practitioners in an effort to improve the likelihood of adoption (Objectives 4). Metric: E Newsletters reaching 1,300 Subscribers, On Land Magazine Reaching $10,000 Land Stewards. Delivered through Gov Delivery Email (100,000 subscribers).


Education and outreach results:
  1. Annual structured meeting(s): Metrics - Participation

Conflict Reduction Consortium (CRC) Annual Meeting: On October 11th - 12th, 2022 the CRC meeting was convened at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY. There, 30 participants representing livestock producers groups, state and federal wildlife management agencies, NRCS staff, and researchers convened to chart a path forward for the CRC maintain it’s role as a radical-center messenger, expand policy work, and continue knowledge exchange essential to sharing best practices for practices to reduce conflicts such as range riding. 

CRC Annual Meeting

Participation: 30

Qualitative Insights: When participants were asked why the keep participating in the Conflict Reduction Consortium. 

  • “It is one of the few meeting places that makes progress on tough issues by bringing often conflicting or different views into a well-facilitated space.”
  • “I think we accomplish a great amount of collaboration and outreach with CRC, and I hope that we can keep the momentum going, and I want to be a positive driver of that movement.”
  • “It's a great opportunity for shared learning. I believe it's important [for people in academia, NGOs, and agencies] to be connected to people on the ground dealing with the issues first hand, and the CRC has been a great way to do that.”
  • Working together is synergistic and ties the western ranchers together. I believe that the CRC can become the most effective west wide resource for finding and implementing conflict mitigation ideas.”
  • “Because it is one of the few meeting places that makes progress on tough issues by bringing often conflicting or different views into a well-facilitated space. That rarely happens well outside of the CRC. It is inspiring.”

Together with developing a 3-5 year work-plan for the CRC, this meeting re-affirmed the importance of the community of practice, trust, and collective potential for this group to further policies and practices to support wildlife-livestock conflict reduction in the West.


Convening on Collaboration and Conflict Prevention: On June 14th and 15th, 2023, more than one hundred individuals representing landowners, agricultural  producers, Tribes, state and federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations from across Montana and the West gathered in Missoula, Montana, to explore solutions that would increase funding, technical  assistance, and coordination to prevent conflicts between carnivores and agricultural producers, while supporting the economic viability of working lands that provide important space for wildlife.  

Conflict Prevention/Coordination meeting 

Participants: 105 

As a result of this meeting, momentum is building to further align state and Tribal agency capacities with  federal technical and financial assistance to support coordinated landowner and agency implemented  conflict prevention practices to reduce conflicts between agricultural operations and wildlife for the long  term.  

Priority needs and opportunities highlighted by participants across the workshop, included:  

  • Increased coordination across partners and agencies to foster collaboration, information  sharing and learning, and the most efficient use of resources. This is best accomplished by  somebody who is paid to fill that role, and most likely within an agency and thus capable to work  peer-to-peer with the diversity of state, federal and Tribal agencies. That said, existing forums for  working across watersheds such as the Locally-Led Conflict Reduction Partnership and the  Conflict Reduction Consortium are filling an important role and should continue.  
  • Increased public and private financial resources to lower the burden on those agricultural  producers, Tribes, and locally-led partnerships who need to decrease their time fundraising for  conflict prevention measures so they can increase their time implementing solutions.  Sustainability of these funding resources is also essential to increase participation and succeed in  achieving the long-term goals of working lands and healthy wildlife populations—both of which  are critical to rural economies.  
  • Increased technical assistance to agricultural producers, Tribes, and community-based  organizations interested in implementing conflict prevention measures. Technical assistance  should include electric fencing technicians working with local landowners to secure attractants,  support to set up and deliver carcass removal and composting programs, guard dog experts to  inform landowners about options for using dogs to protect livestock and other attractants such as  grain storage facilities, and range riders to increase monitoring of livestock on open range.  
  • Support from state and federal leaders as well as communities for investing in locally and  Tribally-led programs. To succeed in preventing conflicts, it is critical that there is leadership and  support from the top of government all the way down to individual community members and  residents.  
  • Scientific monitoring and research to support the growing use of these tools, increase our  understanding of best practices, and demonstrate success. In addition, social science research  would increase our understanding of how producers and rural residents view these tools  

We have received very positive feedback from landowners and producers regarding this worksop, which can be summarized via these quotes: 

  • “I just wanted to write you a note and thank you for the invitation to the workshop. I usually avoid that sort of thing, if I can, but must confess that I am glad that I attended. I learned some things, got a few new ideas, and got to see some people that I haven't seen in many years. If it comes around next year, I hope that I will be welcome to attend.”
  • “This workshop just felt different. I can’t explain it, but I felt like everyone there was trying to address the same challenges, rather than trying to prove the other is wrong. It gives me hope that something good will come out of it.”


2. Regional workshops, clinics, and/or annual webinar series: Metrics: Capacity Built and publishing/advertising season 1 of WWU. 

  • Colorado (35 participants): Western Landowners Alliance worked as a bridging organization to connect producers in North Park Colorado who were experiencing consistent wolf conflicts for the first time in over 100 years, with Cat Urbigkit, a rancher, writer, and range riding expert. Cat shared her experience employing game cameras for carnivore monitoring to inform her grazing rotation patterning as well as to inform when and where to apply predator deterrents. 
  • Wyoming (30 participants): Comprising one portion of the CRC annual meeting, workshop attendees visited a ranch in the nearby South Fork of the Shoshone, and learned about problems and potential solutions for carnivore conflicts from the perspective of the ranch manager. Further, a panel highlighted landowner perspectives from managers and livestock producers in the greater Cody area, some of whom shared challenges and successes of managing range riding operations. 
  • Montana (105 Participants): During the convening on collaboration and conflict prevention, two panel sessions highlighted the role landowner and agricultural producer-led organizations are playing in conflict prevention while another session focused on Tribal and agency conflict prevention  work, with an emphasis on existing and upcoming opportunities for increased involvement and  investments. All three panels showcased the broad suite of partners that are working together to address  carnivore conflict challenges through shared learning and implementing effective practices. Participants in  the first panel discussed creative partnerships that have formed to reduce carnivore access to attractants,  including through carcass pickup, electric fencing and mats, and bear-resistant garbage programs. Speakers in the second panel session highlighted traditional practices such as range riding and guard dogs that are being used to reduce conflicts on open range, spoke to the challenges of both starting and  sustaining these practices, and raised the importance of working with producers to identify and address  research needs. 
  • Arizona (66 participants): The Western Landowners Alliance and the Farm Bureau hosted a producer-only meeting in Springerville, Arizona focussed to identify problems as it relates to public lands grazing management and Mexican wolf-livestock conflicts. The producers attending quickly coalesced around a vision of establishing an expansive range riding program (10-20 range riders) throughout the Gila National Forest supported by a NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The application for this grant has been submitted and the project team will be hearing back about this opportunity in December. If secured, there will be a direct need for a series of range riding trainings and workshops in the region. 

Looking forward, the team has begun planning our rider-focused workshops for next season, and surveyed producer and rider partners to ask what type of workshop they were most interested in. They requested track and sign skills to improve their ability to accurately determine predator species and behavior in the field. These skills are important to effective range riding. We anticipate holding two workshops on this topic – one in the Washington/Oregon area, and one in Montana or the Southwest.


3. New podcast and video series;  Metrics: Developed capacity and publishing and dissemination of season 1. 

Listener survey data related to Season 1 of Working Wild U: Wolves in the West shows that we provided significant value to our target audiences: ranchers, wildlife managers, and urban wildlife enthusiasts, informing the discussion around wolves. The following metrics indicate the success of the first season

  • The podcast achieved over 35,000 downloads to date in all 50 US states, with top states being CO, MT, CA, and WA, surpassing listenership goals
  • 91% of people surveyed said the show improved their awareness of the topics covered and 89% of people surveyed said the show provided them with new knowledge. 
  • 83% of natural resource professionals and practitioners surveyed said they intend to use some aspect of this project as an educational resource and when advising others on this issue. 
  • 60% of people surveyed said the show modified their opinions and/or attitudes around these controversial topics and 44% of people surveyed said the show provided them with new skills to address similar issues. 
  • Multiple reporters and producers covering wolves, such as Kylie Mohr for the Deseret News, a film producer working on a documentary about wolves in the West, shared that they listened to the entire season as background for their coverage of the issue, which demonstrates the value of the show's radical center perspective on what is too often framed as a polarizing, lose-lose issue.
  • We received the Gold Award from the Association of Natural Resource Professionals (ANRP), Podcast or Radio Category as part of the Natural Resources University (NRU) Podcast Network.
  • We also earned 74 five star reviews on Apple Podcasts (79 total reviews, 4.8/5 stars)


4. Development of a “Toolkit” for Livestock Producers; 

Not relevant: product forthcoming. 


5. Multimedia distribution to sustain and amplify these activities. 

Throughout this past year, we have engaged in communications and media campaigns to increase the profile of our education and outreach efforts through newsletters, print Magazines, and photos and videos communicated through social media. 


  • Western Landowners Alliance Working Wild Challenge newsletters highlighting stories, opportunities, and relevant news about what it means to manage working lands while sharing space with wildlife were delivered to 2,343 members quarterly.

On Land Magazines

  • The Western Landowners Alliance On Land magazin, that shares stories of land stewardship across the West,  reaches over 3,000 individuals through subscription and store sales. This reach is furthered by On-land online 

Working Wild University Social Media -

  • All social content for WWU S1 was designed to spark curiosity, directing viewers to listen to the full episode. By maintaining a regular cadence as episodes were being released, we were able to maintain an ongoing social buzz around the show which helped drive our listenership.
    • WWU IG reels alone amassed 77,337 views in the past year, plus another 5,125 views on WWU-related posts on WLA IG
    • WWU IG grew from 0 to 784 followers in the past year
    • WWU TikTok amassed 11,881 views in the past year

For website locations for some of the provided information please see: WSARE Annual Progress Report_hyperlinks

154 Farmers intend/plan to change their practice(s)

Education and Outreach Outcomes

Recommendations for education and outreach:

Through the first stages of this project we have learned the following lessons: 

  • Building communities of practice amongst diverse stakeholders in conflict reduction can help support information exchange 
  • Engagement of broad networks with effective, science and land-stewards centered communications can support increased knowledge of range riding and it’s application, and support cross-pollination of ideas within closet networks, building momentum for practice implementation. 
  • Landowners and livestock producers maintain knowledge of the land and stewardship practices that are not often captured in scientific research, or elevated for peer-to-peer learning. Incorporating this knowledge is both important for representative applied science, and for diffusion and implementation of practices such as range riding. 

Lastly, success leads to success, using engaged producers that part of the project design from start to finish recruits more producers. 

35 Producers reported gaining knowledge, attitude, skills and/or awareness as a result of the project
Key areas taught:
  • Identification of predators sign and activity and ways to adopt to this
  • benefits of non-lethal conflict prevention tools for wildlife, livestock, and rangeland production in the presence of large carnivores
  • Risk assessment and landscape stratification
  • Conflict management and the Conservation Planning Process
  • Best practices, considerations, and success stories of using range riding, fencing/fladry, and/or carcass management
  • What does Range Riding encompass and is it right for you
  • How predator species, native prey base, and other factors are influenced by range riding
Key changes:
  • Potential role and opportunity for NRCS in non-lethal large predator-livestock conflict prevention

  • Existing and current research on how these non-lethal tools benefit wildlife and livestock

  • Benefits of non-lethal conflict prevention tools for wildlife, livestock, and rangeland production in the presence of large carnivores

  • Conflict management and the Conservation Planning Process

  • Non-lethal tools and considerations surrounding mitigating conflict with wolves

  • Identification of predator sign and activity

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.