“Living with Carnivores: Boneyards, Bears and Wolves” is a documentary film about living with large carnivores. The story begins a decade ago in western Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley and explores how a rural agricultural community responded to the resurgence of grizzly bears and wolves. The film explores the thoughtful “can do” approach of Montana ranchers who realized that the age old practice of dumping dead livestock onto “boneyards” was destined to spell trouble by attracting grizzly bears and wolves onto ranches resulting in poor outcomes for wildlife and ranchers.
At its core, this film attempts to illustrate that it is possible to transcend ideological divides and to solve serious problems in a polarized world.
Produced by Alpenglow Press Productions and Seth Wilson. Filmed and edited by Jason D.B. Kauffman, Alpenglow Press Productions. Narration by Craig Johnson
The Blackfoot Challenge
In the early 2000’s, ranchers and other partners of the Blackfoot Challenge (a community based conservation effort in Montana’s Blackfoot River watershed) developed a deadstock removal program. “Living with Large Carnivores: Boneyards, Bears and Wolves” is a newly released film that shares the journey of the folks of the Blackfoot Challenge as they work to find solutions for reducing conflict with carnivores on the agricultural landscape. While the film demonstrates the work being done in one area of Montana, it also proposes the idea that by working together, from a grassroots level, we can learn to reduce the risk of living with large carnivores on our farms and ranches. The Blackfoot Challenge has provided a model for carnivore conflict reduction that can successfully be implemented in any part of the world.
Dumping cattle carcasses is illegal in Michigan and Wisconsin. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that leaving carcasses in the woods, especially in wolf range, will attract wild carnivores. It’s just plain and simple common sense practice to dispose of livestock properly. Properly disposing of dead livestock also helps prevent the spread of diseases.
It can also be a lesson well learned as in the following story told to me a couple years ago by a woman living in wolf range. I was talking with a woman that lives in the country with a resident wolf pack nearby. I asked her if she had seen any signs of them lately, and she said she hasn’t seen them, but knows they are nearby. Then, she told me her tragic story. They had two dogs, one young and one older, and recently lost the older dog because of a mistake they made. She told me that they dumped their food scraps in a pit in the woods down behind their house; That one day she came out to the garage to find the young dog cowering in the corner. Then, she heard the older dog let out a screech from the pit out behind the house. She ran to the pit, looked down into the woods, and there was no sight of the older dog. They looked but never found a trace of him. They did find wolf tracks though. I asked them if they reported the incident to the DNR and she said no because it was their fault. She said they stopped dumping food scraps in the pit in the woods behind their house. They understand their mistake and tragically too late for their older dog. They live in wolf range and are also farmers. They also respect wolves and understand their place in the ecosystem.
Recently…Research In Upper Peninsula Finds Dumped Livestock Is Changing Predatory Behavior
A study led by Tyler Petroelje, a wildlife researcher and doctoral candidate at Mississippi State University, tracked the feeding behaviors of eight wolves from two packs in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This research was part of a broader predator-prey study that investigated a variety of factors that affect deer populations in the region. As reported by Great Lakes Echo, the study suggested that dumping cow carcasses alters wolf behavior.
In the North Woods of Wisconsin and Michigan, a wolf’s natural diet typically consists of deer and beaver, Petroelje explained. But he found that nearly one-third of the diet of the wolves studied consisted of cattle carcasses from dump sites on nearby farm
Disposing of livestock carcasses is an important part of animal agriculture. Wisconsin law says that carcasses must be properly disposed of within 24 hours from April through November and within 48 hours from December through March.
Rendering, burial, burning and landfilling have been the typical means of disposal, but these are becoming less and less practical. Burial and burning create biosecurity hazards and threats to water and air quality. Rendering remains the best choice to protect the environment, public health, and animal health, but it is becoming more expensive and less available.
Cattle carcasses in particular are becoming more difficult and expensive to send to rendering because of federal regulations. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates animal feed and pet foods, now prohibits using parts from cattle 30 months or older in any food for animals unless the spinal cord and brain are first removed.
We recommend composting carcasses to overcome these problems. Remember that composting is an active process.
Putting a carcass in the woods or on the back 40 to rot and/or be eaten by scavengers is not composting and:
• Risks disease transmission to your livestock and your neighbors’, and to wildlife.
• May contaminate water sources – including your well and your neighbors’ wells.
• Invites vermin and pests, including coyotes, that may transmit disease and prey on your livestock.
• Alienates neighbors and generally casts farmers in a bad light.
“It is my belief Foxlights have the potential of assisting in the saving of many endangered species around the world.” ~ Ian Whalan
Ian Whalan is a sheep farmer from Austrailia. He invented Foxlights so he could sleep through the night, because it was too bloody cold out there to check on the sheep. Before he invented Foxlights, he had no choice but to go out to scare off the foxes using flashlights. He noticed that the foxes would run away from the lights. In other words, this was where Ian Whalan got the idea to invent Foxlights in 2008.
Foxlights mimic a human patrolling crops or livestock at night to keep predators away.
www.foxlights.com Foxlights are helping livestock producers coexist with snow leopards “As these numbers indicate, snow leopards sometimes have a taste for domestic animals, which has led to killings of the big cats by herders. These endangered cats appear to be in dramatic decline because of such killings, and due to poaching driven by illegal trades in pelts and in body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. Vanishing habitat and the decline of the cats’ large mammal prey are also contributing factors.”(Source: National Geographic)
Watchthe following video of how Foxlights are being used for snow leopard conservancy in Nepal
Video Published on Jan 27, 2015! Shortened version of snow leopard conservancy video showing how Foxlights are being used in Nepal
Foxlights are saving lives in Africa
“Foxlights has the possibility to protect endangered animals. This tool is an inventive way to keep animals such as elephants and lions away from crops and livestock. This type of protection is new to Africa and has the potential to change the way people protect this type of endangered predator.” ~Ian Whalan
Watch the following video on how Foxlights are helping farmers keep African elephant out of their crops
In Wildlife and Wolves, A Guide to Nonlethal Tools and Methods to Reduce Conflict by Defenders of Wildlife discusses How Foxlights stops human-wary predators from approaching, read on: “A new device called the “Foxlight” avoids easily detectable patterns so that night predators do not quickly become accustomed to it. The Foxlight uses an intermittent series of lights in varying, random flash patterns to simulate human activity, such as someone moving a torch around, which stops human-wary predators from approaching.
Foxlights are still being tested in the field, but their effectiveness for reducing livestock losses appears to be short-term (30 days or less). Like other deterrents, Foxlights and similar devices may work best as a temporary deterrent or in tandem with other deterrents. Evidence also suggests that they may be more effectively used proactively to prevent predation rather than reactively to deter an ongoing problem.” (Source)
“Foxlights deter nighttime attacks by mimicking the appearance of a person patrolling pastures with a flashlight. Their dusk-to- dawn solar-powered sensors randomly flash LED lights at 360 degrees and can be seen up to a half mile away. Foxlights have been used successfully around the globe to protect livestock and crops from a variety of species including snow leopards, wolves, elephants, foxes and coyotes. Foxlights attach easily to existing fencing and are best placed where livestock bed down at night.” (source)
Contact information for Foxlights
FOXLIGHTS INTERNATIONAL PTY LTD
Address : 7/22-24 Sarsfield Circuit
Bexley North, N.S.W. 2207, Australia
Phone : +61 29150-9509
www.foxlights.com Foxlights Shopping & Retail on Facebook
Fauna Tomlinson believes in the bright idea of saving lives with lights so much that she is helping to distribute Foxlights around the world. You can reach Tomlinson firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-386-3311
email@example.com Let’s see what happens when Wisconsin begins using the 25 Foxlights they just purchased. I’ve been in contact with them and will keep track of how they are working to save the lives of wolves. ~Rachel Tilseth