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Collaborative Effort: A Washington Cattleman and Biologist are Working to Reduce Wolf-Livestock Conflicts

posted May 23, 2018, 10:02 PM by chloe owens

4/2/2018, by The Spokesman-Review

Collaborative effort: A Washington cattleman and biologist are working to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts

A fifth-generation cattleman and a wildlife biologist are teaming to help northeastern Washington ranchers coexist with the state’s growing number of gray wolves. Stemming from their boots-on-the ground experience with wolf-livestock conflicts, Arron Scotten and Jay Shepherd have formed the nonprofit Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative. They plan to use funding from state and other sources to provide more nonlethal wolf attack deterrents in the region where 16 of the state’s 22 identified packs reside. Both men have roots in the agricultural community and have worked with existing state and private programs related to wolf conflicts. Shepherd, a wildlife biologist with a Ph.D in natural resources, lives in Chewelah. He grew up on his family’s Walla Walla-area wheat and cattle farm. Scotten is a former rodeo athlete who returned to family ranch land north of Kettle Falls after serving 20 years in the Navy. “Wolves add a new cost to cattle operations that are part of the culture up here,” Shepherd said. “We want to provide more access to nonlethal depredation deterrents. “The situation with wolves is dynamic. No one knows where the next problem will occur. We might be more flexible than the state to move quickly where there’s a need.” The effort includes training and hiring range riders and building a cache of deterrence kits – flashing lights, special electric fencing, solar chargers, trail cameras, air horns and other items – that can be delivered quickly to operations where wolf activity steps up.