LIVINGSTON (AP) - A national environmental group
wants to lease pasture in Paradise Valley to give ranchers who have lost livestock to
wolves an alternative grazing area.
The pasture land, to be paid for with a private
donation from a Defenders of Wildlife member, is intended to provide grazing for 70 to 100
cow/calf pairs in areas of the valley where wolves have not been blamed for losses.
The goal would be to have the land available for
grazing as early as next spring, said Hank Fischer, a program director for Defenders of Wildlife.
Since December 1999, the group has paid more than
$5,200 to Park County producers to compensate them for lost livestock and to replace guard
dogs killed by wolves. The group also has paid for guards on horseback to watch over
livestock in areas where wolves are active.
Over the past two years, Fischer said livestock
losses to wolves have been concentrated in specific drainages and to certain times of year
- often when livestock is moved to a summer pasture near an active wolf den. The
pasture would allow ranchers to move their livestock away from the pack before they suffer
any losses, he said.
Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
wolf recovery coordinator, said packs usually den in April, dramatically shrinking the
group's range as it begins to hunt for its litter of new pups. Livestock losses often peak
during the late summer when game animals are healthy and the pups weigh about 40 pounds
but are not yet hunting.
At that point, a litter of five pups consumes
about 20 pounds of meat daily, Bangs said.
interested in leasing grazing lands should contact Hank
Fischer of Defenders of Wildlife or the editor