The Mountain Livestock Cooperative, led by NRCC Research Associate Timmothy Kaminski, combines a knowledge of ranching tradition and economics with a scientific understanding of carnivore-livestock interactions to sustain the working ranch and large carnivore populations in the Mountain West. Drawing on the experience of local ranchers and using science to understand the nature of carnivore-livestock relationships, the project’s vision is straightforward: to develop a practical ‘working model’ that reduces large carnivore-livestock conflicts, creates solutions that benefit livestock producers, and sustains persistent grizzly bear and wolf populations across western North America.
Timm and his team work with willing ranchers throughout the year, refining grazing and husbandry practices within the home range of an identified wolf pack and/or bear family. This cooperative approach has led to fewer livestock losses and wounding, improved calf and yearling weight gains, increased pasture use, and minimized the workload and labor costs often associated with carnivore conflicts. The goal is to broaden traditional land stewardship practices beyond ‘grass and water’ to include a reverence for life that encourages public support for the working ranch and its traditions.
“21st century carnivore conservation is at a crossroads,” Timm says. “Americans value carnivores as symbols of wildness, but our growing understanding of these animals shows the many hardship they face– environmental change, the pace of development, and human pressures that involve multiple boundaries, jurisdictions, and cultures.”
To meet this growing need for change in the way people interact with carnivores and their environments, Timm and his team created The Campaign For Carnivores, a private-public investment and ‘trust’ designed to capture the broad interest and support for carnivores. Built from private contributions and the purchase of a special conservation stamp, the campaign provides resources for proactive, comprehensive and effective long-term carnivore conservation.