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Keeping the Wolves at Bay

Posted by Bryan Potts, Writer-Editor, APHIS Executive Communications in Animals
Aug 03, 2021
A wolf peeking out of a tree

It’s often said that, “good fences make good neighbors.” And in Wisconsin, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services (WS) helped a sheep producer prove that saying true again. Using funds allocated for nonlethal livestock protection, WS designed and built a fence for the producer to keep gray wolves at bay.

Located in the small village of Butternut in northern Wisconsin, the producer had previously suffered $33,000 in losses due to gray wolf attacks on his sheep. With the fence in place, the sheep are now safe, despite the continuing presence of wolves in the area.

The producer recently called Dave Ruid, WS’ assistant district supervisor in Wisconsin, to share his gratitude, saying, “I’m sure if that fence wasn’t put up, we’d be wiped out of sheep by now.”

According to the producer, wolves had killed a deer in the area just outside the fence. His dogs were “just going bananas” barking each night, but his sheep remained unharmed.

Prior to the fence, the producer had tried other nonlethal tools, but they were not as effective. WS routinely recommends and assists producers in using various nonlethal tools, such as fladry, electric fencing, scare radios, and lights.

In this case, it was clear that a better, more permanent solution was needed. WS recommended a more substantial fence and was able to provide funding to make the prototype project possible.

In the end, WS worked with the producer to install a woven mesh wire fence that is 75 inches high with a 42-inch horizontal apron. The apron prevents wolves from accessing the 25-acre enclosure by digging.

A sheep
Category/Topic: Animals

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Aug 06, 2021

Excellent, informative article!

D Williams
Aug 12, 2021

I need a fence to keep the wild hogs (50+ ), coyotes, and other varmits... out of the pasture and tanks. Send me $$$ - in I can get 'er done!

Ben Weaver
Aug 13, 2021

@D Williams - thank you for your comment. If you have issues with feral swine or other wildlife, please contact our state office at 1-866-4USDA-WS (866-487-3297) for assistance.

A. Langley
Aug 20, 2021

This article is great, and helps bring to light the good that can come from alternative preventative measures that don't destroy the ecology of an entire area.

Charlotte Swanson
Sep 08, 2021

Why can't Idaho do something like this instead of killing off all the wolves in their state? Or any other state for that matter. Wolves are just as important to the environment if not more important than cattle and such. Nothing against farmers, we have to eat too. I just don't see why other options are not tried to protect the wolves as well as the livestock as a whole. Wolves are beautiful, smart, and very family orientated creatures, and they deserve to live here too.

alex burnette
Sep 24, 2021

This article is very inspiring.