Outdoors

Fladry barriers hold off wolves

Long ago, Polish peasants tied old rags onto ropes, creating corrals that funneled wolves into areas where they could be killed easily.

Wary of the unfamiliar objects, the wolves refused to duck under the flapping rags – even with hunters in pursuit.

In recent years, the idea has been reinvented as a way to keep wolves away from livestock. Researchers use fladry – cord with plastic flags attached – to create a barrier. It’s the same stuff that used-car dealers drape around their lots, said Stewart Breck, a research biologist for Wildlife Services.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why wolves avoid the plastic flags, but they think that encountering an unnatural object raises the pack’s guard.

“Wolves are neophobic,” Breck said. “They’re scared of new things.”

In an experiment near Salmon, Idaho, fladry was used to protect cattle from a wolf pack. Fladry was also used successfully at a hatchery, where wolves had been conducting nightly raids on a pond stocked with salmon smolts.

Eventually, wolves do test the fladry by biting it, usually after about 60 days. To make the fladry more effective, electric fencing is sometimes added.

The idea for the electric enhancement came from Carol Williams, the wife of a retired Wildlife Services agent in Idaho. She was watching remote camera images of wolves in Canada biting fladry, and suggested that a shock would provide negative reinforcement.

Williams now sells electrified fladry to customers in the United States, Canada and Europe. She’s starting to experiment with lights on the fencing as an added deterrent.

–Becky Kramer


There is one comment on this story »


Rich Landers

Rich Landers

More Outdoors Columns »
More Outdoors Blog Posts »

Most recent column

Landers: Record run should give all anglers shot at a king

The curtain has opened on the last act in the Columbia River system’s “Year of the Salmon.” The performance began with good returns of spring chinook followed by this summer’s post-dams record returns of sockeye and a great showing of coho. Now the big stars …


Recent blog posts

Stevens County Commission condemns state wolf management

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- Stevens County Commissioners have unanimously passed a resolution that hammers Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managers for failing to protect people, wildlife and livestock from wolves ...



Outdoors Calendar

Submit Your Event »




Outdoors Photography

More SR Photo Galleries »
More Reader Photos »


Close

Sections


Profile

Close

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
(800) 338-8801
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801