Low-Stress Livestock Handling Protects Cattle in a Five-Predator Habitat
March 4, 2022
Given the ecological importance of top predators, societies are turning to non-lethal methods for coexistence. Coexistence is challenging when livestock are released within wild predator habitats, even when people supervise or use lethal methods. We report a randomized, controlled design to evaluate low-stress livestock handling (L-SLH), a form of range riding, to deter grizzly (brown) bears, gray wolves, cougars, black bears, and coyotes in Southwestern Alberta. The treatment condition was supervision by two newly hired and trained range riders and an L-SLH practicing range rider. This treatment was compared against a baseline pseudo-control condition of the single experienced range rider working alone. Cattle experienced zero injuries or deaths in either condition. We infer that inexperienced range riders trained and supervised by an experienced rider did not raise or lower the risk to cattle. Also, predators did not shift to the cattle herds protected by fewer range riders. Pending experimental evaluation of other designs, we recommend use of L-SLH.
Author(s): Naomi X Louchouarn, Adrian Treves