The Marin Non-Lethal Predator Management Program — A Win-Win Program for Farmers, Ranchers and Coyotes

My Yipps blog is about urban coyotes. I describe coyote behavior in and of itself, and how it manifests itself in relation to humans and pets in urban centers. For instance, we can better understand coyote behavior by knowing that they are family minded animals who have a claim to their territories. By learning to understand them, we can create and follow simple guidelines which will help us better get along with them.

In rural areas, there are ranchers and farmers who also need to learn to coexist with coyotes. But the circumstances are different between urban and rural coexistence. In rural settings, livestock needs to be protected where there are no humans around. Killing them — which has been a standard management method of the past — simply doesn’t work: the more coyotes that are killed, the more seem to pop up, and livestock continues to be inflicted with the same predation numbers.

A pioneer in changing the way we manage rural coyote issues is Mary Paglieri and her Little Blue Society. She introduced the non-lethal predator management program to Marin County, California in 2000, with her innovative Guardian Shepherd Program which aims for a win-win solution for all stakeholders, including coyotes. Thank you, Mary! 82502933_scaled_450x295 The old management program became an issue when a coalition of animal welfare and rights organizations were locked in a contentious battle with the county and ranchers over the county contract with the Federal Wildlife Services and their use of Compound 1080 — a poison to control predators. Little Blue Society was contacted by the Marin Agricultural Commissioner, Stacey Carlsen, to design a program that would offer a win-win solution for all stakeholders, including the predators.

Mary created and presented a solution, her non-lethal Guardian Shepherd Program, to the Marin Board of Supervisors in October of 2000. This agency then voted to adopt it for The County and to sunset the Federal Wildlife Service’s contract (item 21) meeting-minutes. Mary was able to show the scientific soundness and superior effectiveness of using nonlethal control of predators and other wildlife that interfere with livestock operations for reducing sheep loss without any negative impacts to the local ecosystem.

With the help of various stakeholders, the agricultural commissioner tailored Mary’s Guardian Shepherd Program to the needs of the West Marin sheep ranching community and it was included in The County’s 5-year plan: (section 6) Marin County Livestock and Predator Protection Plan. This program is designed to protect nature while protecting livelihoods and economic activities. It builds self-sufficient ecologically sustainable ranching communities and is now being touted as a national model. Kudos to Mary for a solution that benefits everyone!

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