Moo calves disco up the Green River, griz and wolves not invited: from Wyofile


Somewhere along the lines of discussing prescribed fire and slash burning, someone raised the point of “don’t our technologies allow us to monitor hot spots better?”  Which reminded me of this “cool technology to help reduce environmental conflicts.”

It’s about flashing lights that help protect livestock from predation, thanks to Wyofile.  This is not the ultimate solution, as mammals can adapt fairly readily, but perhaps will work for a while. Check out the video.

Nevertheless, even substandard prototype flashtags were effective when they were first tried out in summer 2021. One goal of that trial, attempted with a sheep herd near Stanley, Idaho, was to see if the motion-triggered flashing bothered the livestock.

“We actually would go out at sunset and sunrise and collect behavioral data on the sheep, to see if they were behaving differently than the ones that weren’t wearing the tags,” Young said. “We weren’t seeing any differences.”

At the same time, the LED lights did seem to afford some protection against predators. About 75 of the 300-member Idaho sheep herd got the flashtags, and although just 25% were lit, the whole population held up.

“Every year that same herd suffers depredation by wolves,” Young said, “and last summer there were no depredations by wolves.”

Some early results from a much more extensive trial in 2022 are equally promising. That one involved a Utah woolgrower who was experiencing “severe” coyote depredation on his small herd, Young said. All seven sheep that remained in that band got the flashtags.

“One of the sheep stuck its head through a fence and ended up ripping out the ear tag,” Young said. “And that was the only sheep that got killed by a coyote since we put the ear tags in.”

For his dissertation, Utah State University PhD student Aaron Bott, whom Young is advising, is investigating how wolves use human-dominated landscapes in order to mitigate conflicts. One chapter looks at the flashtags, 4,000 of which are being deployed in Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming after’s car rim lights were cleaned out.

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