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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