Using Dogs to Reduce Wildlife Conflicts in Rangeland Settings
December 6, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm MST
Join the Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group and the Western Landowners Alliance on Dec. 6 for a one day workshop in Choteau, Montana highlighting the perspectives and experiences of landowners and managers who use dogs to reduce conflict with large carnivores on private and public lands.
Dogs are a versatile tool for reducing conflicts in multiple rangeland settings: from the yard, to the pasture, to the open range. Yet, choosing the correct breed to fit your specific context and needs can be challenging. To highlight the diversity of uses for dogs, presentations and informal table conversations will offer opportunities to interface with multiple dog breeds and their owners and handlers.
Through attending this workshop, you will gain an understanding of the diverse uses and applications for dogs to protect livestock and human safety in rangeland settings.
Speakers and Breeds
Guard and Pursue
- Greg Hertel – Airedale terriers
- Carrie Hunt – Karelian Bear Dog
- Kristin Kipp – Karelian Bear Dog
- Amber Mason – Catahoulas
Livestock Guardian Dogs
- Steve Skelton – Turkish Boz, Turkish Kengal, Komondor, Akbash, Anatolian Shepherd
*Coffee/Snack available upon entry (Sponsored by First Bank of Montana)
10:00 am Introduction
- Trina Jo Bradley- Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Front (RMF) Ranchlands Group
10:20 am Presentations and Speaker Introductions
- Greg Hertel (10 minutes)
- Amber Mason (10 minutes)
- Kristen Kipp (10 minutes)
- Steve Skelton (15 Minutes)
- Carrie Hunt- Wind River Bear Institute (15 Minutes)
11:20 am Morning Break Sponsored by First Bank of Montana
11:30 am MSU Wildlife Extension: Emerging Technologies and Life Applications
- Jared Beaver, Montana State University Extension
11:50 pm Lunch
- Sponsored in part by Marias River Livestock Association
- Served by Pondera County Rodeo Team
12:50 pm World Cafe
- 4 Stations: KBDs, Airedale, Catahoula, LGDs
- Opportunity to interact with dogs and their handlers
2:45 pm Break
- Snack sponsored by MSU extension
3:00 pm Updates from MT Stockgrowers and MT Woolgrowers Meeting
- Trina Jo Bradley – Executive Director RMF Ranchlands Group
- Steve Skelton – President RMF Ranchlands Group, Owner Blackleaf Guardians
3:15 pm Livestock Loss Board: Updates and Funding Opportunities
- George Edwards – Montana Livestock Loss Board
3:30 pm Community Needs: Challenges and Opportunities
- Alex Few – Western Landowners Alliance
- Convene in tables, brainstorm community needs and opportunities and report out
4:15 pm Summary and Conclusion
- Trina Jo Bradley – Executive Director RMF Ranchlands Group
4:30 pm Tabling Continues
5:00 pm Conclude
I work on the Ruby Dell Ranch in Alder with Andy Peterson. We run 800 head of cattle in the southern Gravelly Range for 5 months of the year. We have continuous contact with grizzlies all 5 months. For protection and help we use our cattle dogs, most importantly Catahoula crosses to get range and good noses. By working with dogs, it can also inform us of how content our cattle are at any given time. We could not work efficiently or safely without our dogs.
I strive to blend wildlife research with applied management by identifying conservation opportunities which have direct relevance for landowners and natural resource managers. Much of my work has focused on population ecology and habitat management of large mammals, particularly game species. However, I am continually looking for ways to develop partnerships and gain additional insight into broad multifaceted questions pertaining to wildlife management and conservation. Currently, I am interested in using novel technologies to mitigate wildlife conflict issues (depredation, disease transmission, invasive species, resource competition, etc.) and improve wildlife population monitoring. WHEL Lab website
Carrie Hunt founded and directed the Wind River Bear Institute (WRBI) and Wind River Karelian Bear Dogs (KBDs) from 1996 through 2019. The Institute’s groundbreaking mission has been to teach bears and people the correct behaviors to reduce conflicts. In 2019 Hunt turned directorship of the Institute over to Nils Pedersen, while continuing to direct Wind River Karelian Bear Dog Partners, based out of Florence, MT, with the goal of focusing most of her time on the KBD Program and getting more KBDs trained and out working with trained private and agency handlers, where they are needed. Hunt has worked with bears and human-bear conflict on private and public lands for over 40 years, throughout the Rocky Mountain West, from Canada to Montana and Wyoming, to New Mexico, and Japan. She has worked with ranchers to reduce property damage and livestock depredation in Alberta, Montana and Wyoming, and lived in Choteau in the 1980s.
Steve along with his wife, Billie Skelton, are the co-owners and operators of Blackleaf Guardians, which specializes in producing livestock guard dogs that are ready for deterring grizzly bears around the home, and in open range settings. As a sheep and cattle producer on the Rocky Mountain Front, Steve works with five breeds of livestock guardian dogs on a daily basis to reduce conflict with Grizzly Bears, as their ranch is located in Zone 1 of the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. Steve is also the president of the Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group.
Greg Hertel started hunting with Airedales in 1987 and has owned at least one since then. In 2004, Greg started managing a cattle ranch in western Montana, and in 2010 moved to the South Fork of the Shoshone in north west Wyoming. At Ishawooa Mesa Ranch, the grizzly bear density is relatively high, and this is where Greg’s Airedales became guard dogs. From April through November Greg uses one to two Airedales to keep grizzlies from killing cattle, hogs, and chickens on the ranch property. They also use them to haze grizzlies on their public land grazing allotments.
I am extremely passionate about grizzly bear management because I live in the heart of grizzly and Blackfeet country on the Blackfeet Reservation in Northwestern Montana, where I experience daily grizzly bear interactions. To keep my livestock and family safe, I use Karelian Bear Dogs to haze Grizzly Bears. I love being outdoors, hiking, hunting, taking photos, anything horse-related, and spending time with my three beautiful children.
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