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Non-lethal Wolf Management Perceptions Impact on the Willingness to Ranch Alongside the Presence of Wolves in Washington State Public Deposited

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  • The management of the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) gray wolf population is a longstanding controversy that has fueled generations of political and cultural turmoil in the American West. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, wolves were eradicated from the West for the threat they pose to livestock and ranching lifestyles. Today, the reinstatement of the gray wolf across the Westward landscape has once again raised the controversy over how wolves and people can cohabit, particularly in ranching communities where wolves pose a threat to livestock production. However, nonlethal management practices, such as the use of range riders, have emerged as a solution to mitigate cultural and political tensions. In Washington state, the Range Rider Pilot Project, created by Conservation Northwest, provides a pathway for healthy wolf populations and thriving local communities to coexist by securing the most effective efforts at proactively deterring wolf-livestock conflict (Shepherd, 2019). Thus, allowing a nonlethal alternative option to help ease wolf-livestock competition in areas most threatened by predation. In order to understand the effectiveness and perceptions associated with the range rider program and the nonlethal management practices in areas most impacted by the reintroduction of wolves, this research surveyed ranchers and range riders in northeast Washington state. Results revealed that the relationship between range riders and ranchers is contributing to the acceptance of nonlethal wolf practices, as well as the ability to strengthen social tolerance of wolves throughout the Washington landscape; however, improvement needs to address how to better establish effective communication across government agencies in order to gather and distribute the most accurate wolf tracking data.
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