Click here for the FULL INTERVIEW WITH Kurt Holtzen
Recent wolf depredation incidents in Jackson County have resulted in much more awareness to the upcoming wolf reintroduction, as approved by Colorado voters, to go into effect in 2023. The wolf pack that attacked and killed three head of cattle and a working ranch dog in North Park was already here. The pack came down from Wyoming.
Kurt Holtzen reached out to Steamboat Radio and KRAI about mitigation options. Holtzen is an occasional advisor for the Wood River Wolf Project. He told Steamboat Radio he is also with Lava Lake Land and Livestock in Central Idaho, near the Wood River Valley and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
One option for cattle is glow-in-the-dark evil-eye ear tags for calves.
Photos courtesy Kurt Holtzen.
Other tools include Fox Lights as a night predator deterrent. They can go on a fence post and blink different colors in a random pattern.
Also FLADRY is a line of flags first used in Poland. Holtzen says wolves don’t like to cross them. Turbo fladry has electric fencing or a hotwire. These options are a short-term solution that can be alternated for 60 to 90 days each.
- Video of Wolf Testing Fladry from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Video of Fladry Fencing to prevent wolf/livestock conflict from People and Carnivores Short Films
Holtzen also works with sheep. They put a heavy leather collar with flashing blue LED lights on some of the sheep which has also been successful in keeping the wolves away. He says they have 25,000 sheep grazing on forest service allotments in the Wood River Valley every summer, with 20 wolves in two packs nearby and they have had zero loss of livestock. He also said they use herders and livestock guardian dogs with the sheep, which is something that isn’t done with cattle.
Holtzen also says to keep all conflict mitigation tools available including lethal control.
Holtzen adds, “There’s a lot of producers all over the west who are living with the same kind of problem so I think there’s some answers out there. It’s difficult because it’s a new thing for the Gittlesons and there’s a big spotlight on them. I feel bad about what’s going on. We need to support those folks. I’ve listened to the interview and Don sounds like a straightforward, level-headed guy and I think they’ll (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) find some things that will work for them.”
UPDATE: From Suzanne Stone, the cofounder of the Wood River Wolf Project, which is in its 15th year, and has worked in wolf conservation in Idaho since 1988.
Here’s our publication on nonlethal measures that we’ve tested in Idaho. Adaptive use of nonlethal strategies for minimizing wolf–sheep conflict in Idaho | Journal of Mammalogy | Oxford Academic (oup.com) We’ve now promoted these strategies around the world in Germany, Israel, and beyond. We have lots of information to share with ranchers in Colorado but finding the right deterrent(s) and then applying it consistently is key. It is also essential to understand first what is drawing the wolves to a particular ranch especially if they return more than once.
I’ve been on the ground working with ranchers to develop proactive livestock defense strategies in state after state (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and California) as each has dealt with wolves returning to the landscape. Some have adapted in far better ways than others. My hope is that Colorado will learn from both their mistakes and good decisions to avoid the more severe pitfalls along the way. I’m concerned about the situation unfolding in northern Colorado and hope that we can offer help from our experience and resources if needed.
Director of the International Wildlife Coexistence Network
January 12, 2022 — CPW allows wolves to be hazed in emergency declaration
January 10, 2022 — A wolf pack kill is reported in Jackson County over the weekend