The intent of BHWC’s wildlife programs is to reduce predator-livestock interaction by removing attractant and monitoring the range.
BHWC has 3 non-lethal predator management programs, including a Range Rider program, a Livestock Carcass Removal program that hauls dead livestock from local ranches, and a Livestock Carcass Compost Facility (currently under development).
In the past few years, theve programs have been funded by Montana’s Livestock Loss Board (LLB), but the LLB has recently warned that they will be phasing out previously funded groups in favor or start-up groups & projects. That means we need to raise additional funding for BHWC’s non-lethal predator management programs.
1. The Upper Big Hole Range Rider Program: BHWC employs a Range Rider to patroll enrolled public grazing allotments in the upper Big Hole. The Range Rider watches for wolf, black bear, and mountain lion activity, assesses the condition of the cattle, and alerts livestock producers and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials of any suspected livestock predation. The Range Rider program will be in its 6th year in 2016 (the program runs July-September).
2. Carcass Removal: In 2015, BHWC started a Carcass Removal program. We hired a local snow plow driver to drive a dumptruck (borrowed from USFWS) a few days a week from mid-March to mid-May (during calving) and drive to local ranches to pick up livestock (mostly cattle) carcasses. In 2015, we hauled the carcasses to the local landfill, but in 2016 we will be hauling them to our very own Carcass Compost Facility! The intent of this program is to remove predator attractant from the landscape, making predators work for their dinner rather than allowing them to become dependent scavengers that may also prey upon healthy livestock.
3. Carcass Compost Facility: A compost facility is currently under development and will be constructed in the spring of 2016. It will break down livestock carcasses, thus removing predator attractant from the range and reducing the likelihood of predator/livestock interaction.
Did you know that non-lethal predator management is often much more cost-effective than lethal predator management? According to a FWP wolf biologist, it costs ~$15,000 each time a helicopter flies to perform lethal predator management — in comparison, our Range Rider program costs ~$13,000 annually. BHWC is not against lethal predator management when necessary, but we feel it is better to be proactive rather than reactive! Please help to support these invaluable programs.