Producers gathered from around the state Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 in Choteau to learn about five different types of guard dogs. The workshop, “Using Dogs to Reduce Conflicts in Rangeland Settings” was hosted by Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group and Western Landowners Alliance.
Recently, the Rocky Mountain Front (RMF) Ranchlands Group was formed to address shared challenges to the landscape, the most pressing of which is increasing conflicts between grizzly bears and livestock in the private and public lands of the region. The budding collaborative is a landowner-led effort that strives to support, maintain, and protect the livelihoods of those that ranch and farm on the Front, while seeking solutions to maintain space for the region’s wildlife.
“We need a collective voice to address issues on the landscape,” Trina Jo Bradley, livestock producer, co-founder and executive director of the RMF Ranchlands Group, said. “So many people in the world are too far removed from agriculture, and they need to be reminded of its importance. One of the goals of this group is to share our stories, struggles, and triumphs with the world so they have a better understanding of what life in the west is really like.”
To kick off their advocacy efforts, the RMF Ranchlands Group teamed up with the Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) to explore the diverse applications for using dogs to protect livestock and human safety on the Front.
“Dogs are a versatile tool for reducing conflicts in multiple rangeland settings: from the yard, to the pasture, to the open range,” said Mathew Collins, WLA’s Working Wild Challenge associate. “Yet, choosing the correct breed to fit your specific context and needs can be challenging.”
In order to highlight the diversity of uses for dogs to reduce conflict with wildlife, presentations and informal table conversations offered opportunities for producers to get to know multiple dog breeds and their owners and handlers. Speakers highlighted their experiences with guard and pursuit dogs (Airedale Terriers, Karelian Bear Dogs), directed dogs (Catahoulas), and livestock guardian dogs (Turkish Boz, Turkish Kengal, Komondor, Akbash, Anatolian Shepherd) to reduce conflicts with grizzly bears and wolves on working lands.
Producers were also able to hear a presentation by Jared Beaver, wildlife specialist for Montana State University. Beaver talked about using technology to assist producers with wildlife control and quicker discovery of depredations. For more information, contact Beaver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Edwards from the Livestock Loss Board talked about the new grant application that LLB has for 2022, as well as loss prevention toolkits and an explanation of what exactly the Livestock Loss Board does for producers. For more information, visit www.llb.mt.gov.
“Producers all over the west have a bigger reach and a bigger voice if they work together,” said Bradley. “In planning this meeting, we have addressed the needs of livestock producers on the Front, while also setting the stage for more conversations and actions to come, which will benefit producers everywhere.”
This workshop was made possible by a grant from Vital Ground, as well as sponsorships from Marias River Livestock Association, MSU Extension, the Pondera County High School Rodeo Team, and First Bank of Montana.
For more information about the Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group, visit www.rockymountainfrontranchlands.org. For more information on Western Landowners Alliance, visit westernlandowners.org.