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Study on wolves and elk could provide predator management tips for ranchers


New research shows that wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem tend to shadow herds of elk.

Matt Kauffman with the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is one of the report’s authors. He says their findings could help ranchers protect their livestock, because elk often graze among cattle.

“When ranchers move their cattle into grazing allotments that overlap with those resident elk areas, that might be a time to increase the amount of attention they pay to those cattle, with range riders and that type of thing,” Kauffman said.

Kauffman says the study also indicates that traditional predator management strategies might not be that effective.

“Wolves in that area are commonly lethally removed because they get into livestock conflict,” he said. “And what this work suggests is that when packs re-establish … they’re likely to establish in that resident elk area.”

In other words, Kauffman says, as long as the livestock are mingling with elk, the wolves will be back, because they gravitate toward the elk herds.

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