- Animals: bovine
- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: animal protection and health
- Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Natural Resources/Environment: wildlife
As wolf populations continue to recover, the chance for wolf-human conflicts also increase. We test livestock guarding dogs as a non-lethal management tool for preventing wolf depredations (i.e., predators preying on livestock as a food source) on cattle. Furthermore, we include farmers as an important stakeholder in managing depredations. This project will provide farmers with a management tool that can be integrated into normal farming practices to reduce livestock losses from predators. By effectively preventing livestock predation, farmers can improve profitability by avoiding the economic losses incurred by depredations. Additionally, decreased depredations and a proactive and involved role in managing depredations can translate into increased social tolerance for wolves and reduced animosity towards wolves and the agencies that manage them. Six working cattle farms in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were each given two Great Pyrenees pups. Following guidelines we have given them, farmers are responsible for the care and training of their dogs. Nine cattle farms, six treatment and three control, are being monitored for predator activity using sand tracking swaths, data loggers and farmer observation. Monitoring predator activity will continue during 2005 and 2006. Predator visitations on farms with livestock guarding dogs will be compared to farms without guarding dogs. This research will provide baseline data for a non-lethal management tool that could reduce the conflict between wolves and agriculture while benefiting both.
Project objectives from proposal:
The purpose of this research is to determine the effectiveness of livestock guarding dogs (LGDs) for deterring wolf use of livestock areas, thus preventing wolf-caused depredations. Few studies exist on wolf populations in semi-agricultural areas (Fritts et al 1992). This research will provide baseline data on wolf ecology in semi-agricultural areas and will provide guidelines for integrating non-lethal control tools into normal farm practices. Furthermore, this study will include farmers as an important stakeholder group. Success of this project will be determined by the ability of LGDs to alter wolf use away from livestock areas and by the farmer's perception of the effectiveness of the dogs. Therefore, my research objectives are: 1) To implement LGDs on cattle farms; 2) To test LGDs as a non-lethal control tool for reducing predator use of a livestock area, thus preventing depredations; and 3) To involve farmers as an important stakeholder group in managing depredations. This project will provide farmers with a management tool, livestock guarding dogs (LGDs), that can be integrated into normal farming practices to reduce livestock losses from predators. Participants of this research can keep the LGDs provided to them in this study and will continue to benefit from the dogs’ protection. Furthermore, this research will provide guidelines for implementing LGDs on farms where wolves are recovering or established. Currently, no detailed guidelines exist on incorporating LGDs into normal husbandry practices. These guidelines will expose farmers to a proactive method of predator management that they can implement on their own. Farmers can then successfully utilize LGDs as a management tool for reducing depredation. Because LGDs can be used effectively with different types of livestock and in various environments, these guidelines will be applicable anywhere a predator conflict may arise. Unlike most management tools currently utilized, LGDs allow farmers to take a proactive role in protecting their livestock. By effectively preventing livestock predation, farmers can improve profitability by avoiding the economic losses incurred by depredations. Furthermore, decreased livestock depredations and involving farmers as an important stakeholder group in managing depredations could lead to an increased social tolerance for wolves and reduce animosity towards wolves and the agencies that manage them.