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Working With Farmers to Save American Wolves

Throughout America, wolves and related species cross paths with humans across bustling cities, idyllic farmland, and serene wilderness. These keystone carnivores help maintain a healthy ecosystem from top to bottom; however, the potential for conflict with people is increasing. Over one-half of the 2.3 billion acres of U.S. lands is used in agriculture, and developed areas are expanding across the country. Sadly, as wildlife habitat shrinks, a “shoot, shovel, and shut up” approach is still the norm when it comes to predator management in most of North America.

GreaterGood.org partners with The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) to provide education and best practice models to farmers and ranchers. Through their Wildlife Friendly® and Predator Friendly® certifications, WFEN provides market access for businesses taking steps toward coexistence with wildlife, with the ultimate goal to conserve keystone wildlife and the natural systems critical to the health of people and the planet.

For farmer Paul Grieve of Pasturebird, WFEN’s newest Certified Wildlife Friendly™ enterprise in North America, a flourishing habitat that supports wildlife like these coyote pups is an integral part of farming. “The important thing to us is that we build an ecosystem. Our role is to steward the land and grow a great environment for Mother Nature.”

©Martha Marks

Pasturebird ensures wildlife corridors remain open and use a number of methods to protect their chickens so that a variety of wildlife can pass through the property. “We end up seeing snakes, rabbits, birds, worms, deer, and coyotes. I love being able to see those guys come through the farm but not interrupt our operations. Knowing that mountain lions are around makes it even better. It means we’re doing something right.”

This sentiment, together with husbandry practices to meet the farm’s stewardship mission, has enabled Pasturebird to become Southern California’s first farm to achieve Certified Wildlife Friendly™ status. Certified Wildlife Friendly™ recognizes farms and ranches committed to regenerative practices that enable wildlife and livestock to coexist. The farm is working to restore perennial grasslands. It uses managed, multi-species grazing practices to improve soil. It conserves wildlife corridors and relies upon proactive, humane practices to deter predators, among other key attributes. Along with peers around the globe, Pasturebird is part of a progressive wave of agriculture that models the critical role of farms and ranches in sustaining wildlife and habitat.

Livestock guardian dogs are key to the farm’s ability to coexist with wildlife. While predator losses were significant in the farm’s first true commercial year, the family quickly realized the use of lethal control “didn’t jibe at all with what we were doing,” says Paul. Rather, “we were working to “heal the land, heal the soil, and participate with nature.” Today, the farm raises its own Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix guardians. The dogs help protect the flock, which is moved to fresh pasture daily in open-air, floorless chicken tractors. The farm vision includes having its operations become carbon-neutral in a few years, by offsetting the energy put into tractors and other equipment through its soil building activities.