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June 24, 2008

New Sawtooth Proactive Project

In April I talked about a project that we are involved in up in the Sawtooth Mountains. This project officially started last Thursday with a training day for our field technicians and some of the sheep herders in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Rick_flagery_2 Rick Williamson demonstrates the use of turbo fladry

Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho Fish and Game, US Forest Service, Wildlife Services and a number of different sheep producers are working together on a project that will use a number of different tools to try and keep the wolves out of the sheep bands that graze in this area. We practiced using the telemetry equipment that will help us locate the wolves and give us an idea of how close to the sheep they might be. We also practiced setting up RAG boxes and fladry, two non-lethal wolf deterrents that I have talked about earlier in this blog. These tools would be used if we know that there are wolves close at hand, or if we are near a wolf den or rendezvous site. We also issued the field technicians with a few noise makers such as air horns so they will be able to scare the wolves off if they get to close to the livestock. These technicians will work mainly during early evening through to morning, as this is the time that wolves are most active. As the herders set up camp, and the sheep start to bed down, the technicians will turn on their telemetry equipment and start their nights work scanning for wolves.

TransmitterA filed technician uses telemetry to track collared wolves

The technicians will work closely with the herders and producers to determine what are the best tools to use in any situation, and they will also advise the herders if they think that wolves are in the area. Any project like this depends on good communication between all organizations involved, and after a successful training day like the one we had, hopes are high going into this project.

I would like to thank Rick Williamson and Stewart Breck from Wildlife Services, Carter Niemeyer and Brad Lowe from Idaho Fish and Game, and Kurt Nelson and Mike O'Farrell from the Forest Service for helping to put this training day together.

Keep reading this blog to hear from the field technicians themselves about nights spent out in wolf country working with sheep bands.

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