Range Rider Pilot Project enters 10th year, range riding season underway

Range Rider Pilot Project enters 10th year, range riding season underway

ConservationNWAdmin / Jun 22, 2020 / Range Riding, Restoring Wildlife, Wolves

Our range riders are in-the-field for the 10th year, advancing coexistence and helping reduce conflict between livestock and wolves

Our Range Rider Pilot Project is now in its 10th year of operation! Less than a month into the 2020 summer grazing season, range riders are working daily to reduce conflicts between livestock, wolves and other wildlife in Eastern Washington.

A collaborative effort between Conservation Northwest and local ranchers, the Range Rider Pilot Project seeks to demonstrate the effectiveness of non-lethal measures in deterring or reducing conflicts where wolves and livestock overlap.

A wolf track photographed this spring in an area where range riders operate. Photo: Jay Shepherd

This summer we have three “cost-share” range riders operating in coordination with ranches whose grazing allotments overlap with known wolf pack territories in the Teanaway Valley in the east-central Cascades, in the Kettle River Mountain Range, and in northeastern Stevens County.

In recent years we have also operated “rapid response” range riders ready to deploy quickly to areas of emerging conflict, as well as helping with calving and other year-round assistance. This season, those responsibilities are being led by the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, a local community cooperative.

Our Wolf Program Lead Jay Shepherd helps administer the NEWWCC, which has 15 range riders, some part time, all community members, working this summer in Ferry County in the Kettle Range, as well as three range riders in Pend Oreille County.

We’re committed to the goal of long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves alongside thriving local communities. Our key objective to achieve this goal is to get maximum effort to deterring conflicts with wolves. We pursue this by working in the policy arena—through collaboration with other stakeholders on the state’s Wolf Advisory Group and in the state legislature to secure continued funding for proactive deterrence work (including the NEWWCC)—and by working directly with ranchers through our Range Rider Pilot Project and other efforts.

A mother cow and calves in northeast Washington. Photo: Jay Shepherd

The result of maximum conflict deterrence is minimum conflict, not no conflict, unfortunately. We know we’re unlikely to prevent wolf-livestock conflict entirely, but we can make it less common.

We also seek to continually strengthen our cooperative relationships with biologists, the ranching community, other conservation groups, members of the state legislature and government agencies on behalf of coexistence. Our staff and contractors are working in-the-field and at our state capitol to reach these goals.

Stay tuned for further updates on another summer of range riding in Washington wolf country!

FOllow our WASHINGTON’S WOLVES FACEBOOK PAGE for more frequent updates! Or learn more about the RANGE RIDER PILOT PROJECT, WOLF RECOVERY IN WASHINGTON, and TALKING POINTS ON COEXISTENCE
A range rider at work in northeast Washington. Photo: Jay Shepherd