Wildlife Services (WS) experts are exploring how fladry, a nonlethal tool used to protect cattle, sheep, and other livestock from wolves, can prevent other wildlife damage.
Fladry is a line of brightly colored flags evenly spaced and hung on a wire around a pasture or other area where livestock gather. Wolves are afraid of new things, like fluttering flags. This fear makes them cautious about crossing the fladry boundaries—at least for a few weeks. That added time is often enough to protect calves and lambs during critical periods.
At Badlands National Park and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in South Dakota, WS evaluated using fladry to stop coyotes from entering endangered black-footed ferret reintroduction sites.
“Coyotes can kill ferrets and compete with them for food,” states Dr. Stewart Breck, a research wildlife biologist with WS National Wildlife Research Center. “We wanted to see if fladry would reduce coyote conflicts with endangered black-footed ferrets by reducing coyote access to ferret recovery areas.”
Coyote use of areas inside the fladry barrier declined by 60 percent after 60 days. Coyotes also avoided some areas they used before the barrier was put in place.
WS is also exploring electrified fladry known as “turbo-fladry” to keep invasive feral swine from agricultural fields. This is important after planting or shortly before harvest. That is when feral swine damage can be the most detrimental. Field trials in Tennessee show promising results.
These findings encourage more studies on the use of fladry for other purposes.