How dogs can protect wolves and livestock alike.

A Grey Wolf distracted by human presence.
A Grey Wolf distracted by human presence. | Source

She followed a white tailed deer just out of curiosity for she was never interested in bringing down such an unassuming prey. Her family and she routinely pursued more challenging species of ungulates – the elk – to feed themselves and their pups. She was aware of the fact that she was just outside her domain and wanted to get back soon.

Suddenly, she noticed a biped hidden in the bush with a strange long branch of wood like thing pointing at herself. Now she was not particularly afraid of the bipeds. She was aware that most of them, who are in the vicinity, are harmless to her and her family. Instead, they always seemed to be curious about her and as soon as they saw her, she could smell a feeling of joy in them.

The only negative experience she had was when she had noted a group of them at a distance that gave her a long thorn into her body that she could not pull out and that made her want to go to sleep very badly and that probably gave the ugly piece of extra load tied around her neck that she had now gotten used to. Even after this incident, she never felt threatened by the bipeds. In fact, she was accustomed to their presence and knew that they never meant her any harm.

So when she noted this particular biped in the bush, she was not afraid, but her sixth sense told her that she should get out of the area back to her home grounds quickly. She turned and looked at the partly hidden figure for a final glance. All of a sudden, she heard a loud bang as if the rutting season started for the wild sheep, followed by immense pain in her head for a fraction of time it usually took her to startle a herd of elk. And then she just didn’t feel anything at all. It was dark.

Wolf 832F. She was shot just outside of her Yellowstone National Park range.
Wolf 832F. She was shot just outside of her Yellowstone National Park range. | Source

The hunters versus wolf conservation groups

I was dismayed to hear that a wolf frequently seen in and around Yellowstone National Park that went by many names — 832F by researchers, “rock star” by wildlife enthusiasts, “famous” by others — was killed in this manner. Although shot legally during hunting season, many like me were upset, and the Humane Society of the United States had even filed a lawsuit against the decision that allows wolf hunting in Wyoming.

According to the New York Times, Yellowstone wolf program project director Daniel Stahler had said this wolf rarely left the park. 832F was one of eight with the collars to be killed during the season, since wolves became legal for hunters in the state after being removed from the endangered species list last year.

Some conservation experts say that the wolf population in the area isn’t yet large enough to allow hunting. On the other hand, ranchers would argue thinning the pack protects livestock and other big game in the park.

I would like to advise that it is not the ranchers always, but hunters who usually argue that killing wolves is a right thing to do in order to protect game animals and livestock. Killing wolves in an unethical manner should not be an option. The extraordinary large number of collared wolves harvested in that season season shows that the wolves have been killed unethically. Hunters were using electronic signals emitted from the transmitters on the collars to pinpoint the location of the wolves.

A Kuvasz, a giant LGD breed (this one is Ilsa of Brantwood Kuvasz) helping in lambing. However, a pack of wolves can make a short work of a lone Kuvasz.
A Kuvasz, a giant LGD breed (this one is Ilsa of Brantwood Kuvasz) helping in lambing. However, a pack of wolves can make a short work of a lone Kuvasz. | Source

Use right livestock guardian dogs and tools

There are ways to discourage wolf-human conflict, most of which emanates from some wolves or packs trying to hunt livestock for food. Farmers can employ livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) for protection of their sheep and calves. However, pro-hunt ranchers claim that this is not a viable option, because even their LGDs, mostly Great Pyrenees, get killed by wolves.

Here is a Kangal and his charges. Fence is a good idea in case wolves have moved into their territory.
Here is a Kangal and his charges. Fence is a good idea in case wolves have moved into their territory. | Source

First of all, I believe one or two LGDs should not be expected to keep wolves at bay. In this situation, if a wolf pack moves into the territory, the best bet is to keep livestock and dogs within the confines of a fenced area, if that is economically viable. It should be ensured that LGDs do not roam alone over large areas, where they can be tackled by pack of wolves and killed. Although wolves are a beautiful animal and need to be protected for our future generation, they are after all wild animals and will kill a sheep or a dog to feast on it. They cannot and should not be demonized for this.

Bulgarian Karakachan.
Bulgarian Karakachan. | Source

Also, not all LGDs are capable of challenging wolves. A combination of Great Pyrenees, Kuvaszok and Italian Maremmas employed by Mr. Dennis Loxton for protection of sheep and silvicultural workers against bears in British Columbia has yielded spectacular results (see references, bullet # 1). Note however, that he keeps 8 LGDs plus few herding kelpies per 1500 sheep to achieve success.

While these are great LGDs for predators like bears, cougars, and coyotes, their manner of defense is not adequate against a pack of wolves in the northern Rockies. To take on wolves, you need to have LGDs who are bigger and have greater canine prey and fight drives (see references, bullet # 2).

A Central Asian Ovcharka
A Central Asian Ovcharka | Source

Cat Urbigkit and Jim Urbigkit have highlighted in their research paper on the topic (see references, bullet # 3) that farmers need to employ the services of right type of LGDs for protection against wolves.

If livestock is being grazed on public areas frequented by wolves then a confrontation between LGDs and them is highly likely. For this situation, Urbigkits recommend employing the services of canine aggressive LGDs like Central Asian Ovcharkas, Turkish / Kurdish Kangals, Portuguese Transmontano Mastiff, Bulgarian Karakachans or mixes thereof for protection against wolf predation.

If you have to be a wolf hunter then be ethical

Scottie Westfall of the Retrieverman Blog, voted one of the top 125 popular blogs on pets, Writes, "Let it be known that I’m not opposed to wolf hunting as a management tool. Wolves are much better off when they have a very healthy fear of people, and whenever wolf packs take to killing dogs or livestock , they need to be culled. But I don’t think we should go back to the days when wolves were shot, trapped, and poisoned for bounty money. We definitely shouldn’t go back to the days when people caught wolves and tortured them."(see references, bullet # 4).

This chase will discourage wolves from returning to the farm

As the wolf population increases in the protected areas like Yellowstone National Park, they will expand their range beyond the park’s protected boundaries and will come into a conflict with humans. No matter how the conservationist and animal rights activists feel, some wolves preying on livestock need to be chased and hunted, others chased and left alone. This is to send a message to wolves to fear humans. This fear will eventually result in their own safety as it has over the centuries till today.

Wolves feeding their natural prey.
Wolves feeding their natural prey. | Source

However, I am of the strong view that breeding pair of wolves (the alpha male and female if you will) and the more experienced members of the pack should never be hunted. If they get hunted, their experience of chasing and killing their natural prey dies with them and never gets transferred to the younger members of the pack. It is these younger members without much experience that usually turn to livestock.

Jim Corbett was an ethical hunter.
Jim Corbett was an ethical hunter. | Source

Finally, I believe if some of them have to be hunted, this is better done by professional and ethical hunters who have proven their credentials. Those hunters should not be sadist, technology dependent, trophy displaying show offs. An ideal hunter that comes to my mind is world renowned hunter of the British Raj, Jim Corbett, who preferred to hunt alone and on foot when pursuing dangerous game. He often hunted with this small dog named Robin, about whom he wrote in many adventures in his first book The Man-Eaters of Kumaon.

If given a chance, would Corbett have hunted wolf 832F? I believe not, for she was neither threatening livestock nor humans. He would have never hunted her. Instead, with Robin at his side, he would have observed her and admired her beauty.

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Comments 26 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi 'The Hunter':

Here is something from the org. Living with Wolves: "Positive development:

The National Park Service is moving to permanently block predator-control efforts on the land it controls in the state of Alaska. More specifically, they are looking to stop three hunting practices:

1) shooting wolves and coyotes, or their pups, in early summer when the pelts have no commercial value,

2) shooting grizzly bears over bait,

3) using artificial light ("shining") to hunt black bears, or killing black bear sows and cubs in their den.

The State of Alaska Board of Game has allowed these practices in some areas of the state in order to reduce the number of predators and increase the number of prey like moose, caribou and Dall sheep. The National Park Service has had conflicts with Alaska Board of Game over this question in the past. Park officials argue for letting nature take its course, even if that means periods when both predators and prey are scarce.

"And the park service doesn’t like the way some of the state hunts look. Killing young animals and using what are considered by some to be "unfair'' hunting tactics run counter to decades of hunting ethics created and fostered by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 to 1909, and the Boone & Crockett Club, a conservation group that spawned so-called "trophy hunting'' to encourage hunters to kill only the oldest and biggest animals.""


The Hunter 2 years ago

this is an eye opening article for me and my fellow hunting community. we need to respect all wildlife. i fully endorse your viewpoint of ethical hunting. unethical hunters are not hunters - they are simply unethical sob's.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful incident with us Mel. That they have emotions similar to us is probably why some of their ancestors decided to join humans thousands of years ago.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

Wonderful post. One of my most memorable experiences was when my wife and I saw three wolves greeting each other close to the Firehole River in Yellowstone. One of the wolves seemed to be injured and limping, and instead of taking advantage of its weakness the other two wolves were licking and supporting it. Wolves have emotions very similar to our own and I think hunting them for a bounty is downright criminal, or should be.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you Kathi for endorsing my views. Since wolves are running the risk of getting delisted from endangered species list, I am picking more battles on and off the net.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 2 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

I feel your passion on this subject and fear that the wolf population will fast be in jeopardy again! I can't stand the guys who show off a wolf kill and learning that some of them use the collars makes me sick to my stomach! I think you show some legitimate solutions and praise your work! Thank you for sharing! Voted +


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Don,

I have tried to be balance, but I am afraid, our hunting community isn't balanced in their minds. Look at these new facts:

FACTS:

Wolf recovery across the United States is in jeopardy. In the past two years, federal protections for wolves have been removed in the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes, leaving management decisions to individual states. States in these regions have approved aggressive hunting and trapping seasons designed to drastically reduce recently recovered populations. In 2012 alone, more than 1,200 wolves were killed in these two regions under the state plans. State management programs are as gruesome as they are ineffectual

And Now they are planning on removing them from the REMAINING STATES!!!! WHICH WILL COMPLETELY WIPE THEM OUT! Break up Packs, Kill Moms, mates, siblings.

So actually I am thinking that hunting needs to be allowed on a very limited scale.

Regards,


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have been a city dweller most of my life so I do not have any real involvement in the wolf situation. I do think farmers and ranchers have a right to protect livestock. I don't think the wolves or any animal should be hunted beyond necessary limits. Your views sound reasonable to me. sharing.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

You are most welcome, Cindy. I am lover of wolves and dogs and in my office too, I mention wolf packs a lot for improving team spirit lol. They are indeed a very beautiful animal.


Cindy Letchworth profile image

Cindy Letchworth 3 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

Thank you for talking about wolves. They are so beautiful and special.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you sgbrown.

Another thing to consider is that our dogs are related to wolves, yet we discriminate against wolves. Wolves are dogs that refused to follow humans into their caves / villages or one can say that dogs are wolves that specialized in forging relationship with humans.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

This is a wonderful hub! It is a shame that there are people out there who would hunt these beautiful animals just for the sake of killing them. There does have to be a balance kept, but it should be done with respect to these animals. Voting up and interesting. :)


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

midget38,

Thank you very much. I appreciate your comments.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Am all for these suggestions! The key to everything is balance. You have suggested correctly that we can protect both wolves and livestock! Sharing!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Genna and this is all bout nature conservation rather than animal rights protection.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi moonlake,

I am sure that wolf is causing you joy and fear at the same time. No matter what, wolves are expanding their ranges. And as they expand, they will come in conflict with humans. Adequate protection and, unfortunately, ethical hunting are the only solutions.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Peggy,

Although most ranchers and transhumance shepherds support wildlife on their rangelands, it is a minority that hunts our top predators for trophy purposes and goes to any extreme to show off. Unfortunately, youtube is replete with those videos from unethical hunters.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Sometimes, one has to keep a balance of nature so that one species does not expire, or is hunted and killed so extensively that it decreases the population too rapidly. Excellent hub!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

We have a wolf coming into our yard. He's after the deer that hang out in our meadow and he's also hunting in the farm field across the street from us. The wolf growled at me one night when I went outside to take some night pictures.

The wolves here have been removed from the endangered species list so they did have a wolf season here this year.

Voted up on your article.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I think that you struck just the right balance here with your hub. It made me sad to think that the collared and tagged wolf was killed. Yes...there needs to be a balance and if killing is needed...it should be done as humanely as possible. It would be ideal if the wild animals and the rest of us could co-exist without too much harm to one another. Up and interesting votes.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

aviannovice,

Please see my response below.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Larry,

Please see my comment below.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

aviannovice,

Thank you for understanding my point. I am of the view that it is our responsibility to 'tell' wolves that livestock is out of bound for them and there are various means available to do just that. Keeping livestock guardian dogs is one of them.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

I believe wholeheartedly in allowing wolves to live, but the domestic animal is something that they do need to know is out of bounds. I agree wholeheartedly in ethical hunting, as well. I also knew someone from back home in Maine that had a wolf dog.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Larry,

Thank you for noticing what I actually was trying to project. I am lover of wolves and want them to be protected, but I am going to look foolish if I subject them to anthropomorphism and one day read in the news that a rogue wolf killed a child. Yes, we need to protect the wolves, but we also need to be prepared for what can happen next.


Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 3 years ago from Northern California

Great hub, Suhail. I don't run across very many articles that strike the proper balance between wolves as evil killing machines on the one hand; and wolves as cute, cuddly, warm and fuzzy on the other hand. Voted up, shared and more.

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