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April 18, 2008

Non-Lethal Deterrents: Part II

After the excellent Wolf Conference ended I jumped in a car and headed West, to Philipsburg Montana to visit one of our proactive project partners. So far they have had a successful calving season, and the wolves have been keeping out of the calving corrals. The ranch manager and other ranch hands have been using the telemetry equipment that Defenders helped buy, to keep track of the movements of the wolves. The cow/calf pairs are ready to go out to pasture, and they were still waiting for the snow in the fields to melt when I arrived. Rag_box_4_2

They have a couple of grazing allotments that they will be using this year, and as the range rider will not be able to be at both places at once, we decided that the use of a Radio Activated Guard (RAG) box would help out in this situation. The RAG box is a device that was thought up by a rancher, who wondered how the signal emitted by the wolves' collars could be used to set off rockets or gunfire so as to scare the wolves away. What was eventually developed was the RAG box, which has a strobe light on top, a pair of speakers, and an internal computer. When a collared wolf comes within range of the RAG box, the signal coming from it's collar sets off the computer which in turn activates the strobe light, and the cassette player, which plays a tape of loud noises, which includes gunshots, the clatter of horses hooves, and helicopters. The flashing lights and loud sounds scare off the wolves and reduce the predators’ desires to enter or remain in the area where the livestock are located. Information collected by the RAG box’s computer includes the number of times the wolf approached the area during a set time interval and range.

We will keep you updated on this proactive project throughout spring and summer.

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