Idaho, United States - 18/09/2022
Say Hello to the Wood River Wolf Project!
We are thrilled to be helping the Wood River Wolf Project with trail camera support over the coming year! In this guest blog post, Logan Miller, Field Manager for the Wood River Wolf Project, introduces us to the vital work that's happening in Blaine County, Idaho, to promote the coexistence of livestock and wolves. Sheep losses to wolves are 90% lower in the project area compared to the rest of the state, averaging just 4 losses per year, thanks to the project's innovative use of non-lethal deterrents and trail camera monitoring approaches...

Guest blog by Logan Miller, Field Manager for the Wood River Wolf Project

The Wood River Wolf Project is a small community organization based in south central Idaho seeking to implement and improve wolf-sheep conflict reduction tools and practices. Situated at the beginning of the central Idaho mountains in Blaine County, the Wood River Valley is emblematic of many of the processes occurring across the western United States. It is a recreation hub, a historic mining area, and a zone with a long history of sheep grazing. Historically, far more sheep were grazed in the area, but now across the 300,000 acre project area about twenty-thousand sheep graze from June through October.


Project area map - Wood River Wolf Project

Project area covered by the Wood River Wolf Project in Blaine County, Idaho.


Where it all began

In order to give a full background for the project, it’s important to situate us in a brief history of wolves in Idaho. Prior to 1995, wolves had been eliminated from the state by settlers moving west and by government sponsored bounties. Despite still being extremely contentious, due to years of hard work by advocates across the west, in 1995 wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and the Frank Church Wilderness of No Return in central Idaho. In the early 2000s, wolves re-entered the Wood River Valley, and shortly after sheep producers in the area began experiencing sheep loss due to wolves. While Idaho remained a staunchly anti-wolf state, people in Blaine County looked to find ways to make sure wolves could stay in the area the area. In order to make sure these newly returned wolves wouldn’t be killed for predating on livestock, the Wood River Wolf Project was founded.


Blaine county, Idaho - Wood River Wolf Project

Big views in Blaine County.


Non-lethal deterrents to promote coexistence and avoid conflict

By providing and creating tools for sheep producers and herders while improving our understanding of wolf packs in the area, the project seeks to keep wolves away from sheep and reduce any conflict that may result in sheep death or wolves killed. Because wolves are generally quite frightened of humans, all of the tools we use mimic human presence. These tools come in a package we call a “bandkit” that includes night activated strobing lights, noisemakers like starter pistols firing blank rounds, and flashing protective collars for their livestock guardian dogs. Over the years, these methods have proven very effective, keeping sheep losses to an average of four sheep lost to wolves per year.


Nonlethal wolf deterrents - Wood River Wolf Project

Two sheep herders, Milton and Nils, display the “bandkit” provided to them.


Night-activated strobing light - Wood River Wolf Project

Flat Top Sheep herder, Abodon Yaure, showing proper placement of a night-activated strobing light.


Making a protective collar - Wood River Wolf Project

Field Advisor Kurt Holtzen creating the new flashing protective collars.


Protective collar for livestock protection dogs - Wood River Wolf Project

Protective collar for livestock guardian dogs.

Using camera traps to follow wolf activity

Although we have been using camera traps in the project area for a longtime now in order to document wolves in the area and warn herders about potential high conflict zones, we haven’t had access to the same caliber cameras that NatureSpy helped us with. These cameras have dramatically improved our ability to get better information on the wolves in the area by reducing the time needed to sort through images and the time needed to setup the camera while increasing the accuracy of captures and the quality of our images. We have been able to document wolves and sheep inhabiting the same areas while tools were being used at a time that no wolves were lost to sheep.


Camera trap install - Wood River Wolf Project

Setting up a Browning camera trap.


In addition to these videos, we have gathered great images of the other predators in the area, ranging from cougar to wolverine. While the project focuses on wolves, we want our tools to be able to reduce conflict with any predator.


Getting images back of these other wild creatures has been both very informative and a ton of fun. We are excited to keep sharing the images we get back from our cameras and share more about what we do in the Wood River Valley!


Camera choice: The Wood River Wolf Project uses Browning Spec Ops Edge camera traps for high quality images, long battery life and no-glow LEDs, keeping the cameras well hidden.


Learn more about the Wood River Wolf Project over on our project pages.

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