April 14, 2024

American Agri-Women study impacts of predators attacking livestock

BOZEMAN, Mont. — American Agri-Women learned firsthand about the impacts and efforts to mitigate livestock predators from a natural resources panel at their annual convention.

“People may have seen ranch hands on ‘Yellowstone’ trying to save their livestock from wolves,” said AAW President Heather Hampton Knodle.

“Apex predator attacks on cattle, sheep and other livestock aren’t just made for TV. They are daily tragedies on many of our Agri-Women ranches and farms around the country.”

AAW’s affiliate Montana Agri-Women lined up the panel to educate members on issue of livestock lost to wolves and other predators.

Panelists represented the Montana Livestock Loss Board, the Property and Environment Research Center and Helle Rambouillet Ranch.

The Montana Livestock Loss Board was founded in 2007 to address economic losses of sheep and cattle due to wolf predation and has since grown to include losses due to grizzly bears and mountain lions.

George Edwards, who manages the Livestock Loss Board, outlined how only livestock killed — not maimed or traumatized — is inspected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representatives to document the type of predator that attacked the animals.

The board bases the monetary reparation on Montana-based market animal prices that fluctuate on an annual basis. Credit is not given to decades of genetics that create higher-value breeding stock.

Edwards also spoke of different states’ varied approaches to reimbursing ranchers for livestock lost to apex predators.

Hannah Downey, policy director, described PERC as dedicated to finding free market solutions to incentivize environmental stewardship.

John Helle represented his family’s Rambouillet sheep ranch from Dillon, Montana. The family founded Duckworth Apparel Company to market their sheep’s unique wool and to diversify its income.

Helle has also transported his sheep to graze “greenways” near Missoula. He shared the irony that the town passed zoning laws to prohibit ranching on its outskirts and has since seen an influx of invasive and noxious weed species that would have been otherwise controlled through grazing.

The panel was among many highlights at the AAW Convention hosted by Montana Agri-Women. The convention offered opportunities for members to further their mission of uniting women in agriculture, educating each other and promoting the benefits of U.S.-grown food, fiber and renewable fuels.

AAW is the nation’s largest coalition of women in farming, ranching and agribusiness with members in 42 states. Learn more at americanagriwomen.org.