This recent article on wolf conflict in Oregon shows the mounting frustrations as wolves venture further from the Yellowstone borders. Though we (western biologists) often travel to work on conservation issues in in exotic places, many of the same issues are playing out in the US as we expand into wildlife habitat or in this case find a species recolonizing their previous range. Often, non-lethal techniques are ineffective as they focus on scaring the predators without exploring natural deterrents that exploit the behavior that predators have evolved to avoid conflict. With colleagues in Montana, I am planning to start a scent marking study with wolves that venture out of Yellowstone National Park. These marks contain complex chemical signals that wolves detect and interpret to make decisions about their movements- whether to approach or back off and avoid physical confrontations with the resident pack. Preliminary studies on wolves in Idaho and wild dogs in Botswana have shown some promise. This may help ranchers and wolves coexist in various parts of their range including Washington State, Oregon and now California. Stay tuned.
Another day in the field. Keep tabs on all of the latest developments right here!