Livestock near Wisdom, Mont. have protection on the ranch in the form of smaller four-legged animals.
Dogs at Ruby Ranch protect cattle from wolves outside the perimeter of the ranch. Ranch owner Heidi Hirschy says she’s lost 17 cows to wolf attacks between April 2009 and April 2010.
The six guard dogs protecting the ranch in the Big Hole Valley are not aggressive, but instead are bred to be neutralizers according to 5/R Stock Dogs Herdsman Marvin Dunster. According to KBZK.com, Dunster breeds five types of dogs to fit producer’s needs. He says his dogs are bred for intellect, not aggression against wolves.
Hirschy has lost only one animal since bringing the dogs onto her ranch and is considers adding a few more dogs to help cover the property.
Montana State University and Utah University are researching the guard dog model as are other state wildlife organizations.
States with heavy wolf populations have allowed farmers to trap and hunt wolves attacking livestock and have also operated programs reimbursing producers for lost cattle.