This is a controversial topic. Predator/Prey relationships is the topic of an upcoming seminar open to all interested, but targeted to ranching folks.
The Applied Sustainable Ranching program at the local Thompson Rivers University(TRU) is sponsoring guest speakers on Monday May 1, from 10:00 to 3:00 pm. They are Loiuse Libenberg and Joe Englehart.
The first two speakers will be talking about their experiences on ranches in Alberta.
They are “away” experts ,that is, they are purposely not local experts.
They will tell us about their experiences in the morning and then in the afternoon for two hours we will have a panel of local practitioners, ranchers and government conservation workers who will engage with the visitors on our experiences, local and provincial.
Why would ranchers and livestock owners want to attend? Simple, we might learn what works nearby in Alberta. Or we might be able to get an update on what is happening here in B.C.
It is intuitive you might say that if animals that are preying on livestock are disposed of that predation will be reduced.
This might not be so, although there is not much evidenced-based research on this. A lot of government policy is based on anecdotal information and pressure from various groups: wildlife supporters and livestock organizations.
Many ranchers I speak to realize that if there is a problem pack of wolves that the whole pack must be neutralized if you want effectiveness. If only some wolves are taken, then one might just be creating two packs which are both targeting livestock.
Generally, not all packs develop a taste for livestock. They learn it from some pack leaders that are opportunistic and become repeat killers.
A report in Science, Sept. 2016, a study published said that male cougars expand their ranges in response to hunting pressure (by humans). They also reminded us that coyote populations subject to culling have higher pup survival rates.
In one ranching region ranchers were skeptical about the use of guard dogs to protect cattle. Then, after some experiences were shared, the same ranchers were clamoring for guard dogs.
So we really have to know what we are doing. TRU believes that both sides of debates on matters of importance to ranching/ farming should be vetted.
Last year, this same class heard from local wildlife managers about how to protect livestock by trapping and hunting predators.
So, come on out as you get ready for the season (early June?) when the predators have their young and will be looking for food for their offspring.
More to the point, come dialogue with other practitioners who have developed expertise in the predator/cattle co-existence.
For more information call Gillian Watt 250- 319 2367 or David Zirnhelt 250- 243-2243. See you there, TRU, Western Ave.
David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake in January of 2016.