As California’s wolf population grows, other states where wolf populations have recovered can offer valuable lessons. In California, the latest news is that a female from the second new pack in 90 years was collared. Other states have started out with tiny wolf populations but they have grown beyond what officials expected. With no rules for dealing with conflict, cattle ranchers, conservationists and hunters have found themselves in conflict. Luckily, mediation can alleviate conflict and broker solutions that address all concerns.

Growing California Wolf Population Means Potential Conflict

So what kind of conflict can California expect? Why would a collared wolf be a herald of conflict? Already, the California Farm Bureau and California Cattlemen’s Association have sued the state over the Fish and Game Commission’s decision in 2014 to list the gray wolf as endangered. In animal rights mediation, any of the following concerns and more may be brought to the table, allowing everyone to have a voice:

– Raising cattle is expensive. Ranchers feel they can’t afford to lose cattle to wolves. Cattle that are menaced by wolves might not calve as easily.
– Ranchers in many states have resorted to lobbying to de-list the endangered wolf. Wolves are apex predators who can control the population of animals who trample forest vegetation and destroy habitats. De-listing wolves is a blunt instrument that means environmental trade-offs.
– When vulnerable wolves are killed (a tracked and collared wolf is at risk), conservationists and ranchers can go head to head (cattle ranchers have received death threats from extremists). Conservationists may also be divided among themselves about how or whether to compromise.
– The wolf is an animal with image problems. In this interesting article, a mediator describes wolf-human conflict as “identity conflict.” At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we recognize the legitimate life interests of wolves. Mediation can educate on the habits of wolves and how to manage wolf-human conflict in encroached-upon wolf territories.
– Cattle ranchers may be concerned about paying for solutions to protect their animals. Mediation can work with conservationists, animal rights groups, industry groups, state and local authorities and other interested parties to solve these problems.

Mediation can respond with solutions to concerns, including, but not limited to:

– Acting to foster communication and understanding in the early stages of conflict.
– Educating cattle ranchers about solutions to protect their animals such as extra ranching staff to protect cattle, tracking for cattle and erecting barriers to dissuade wolves.
– Educating parties about wolves’ habits and benefit to the natural ecosystem, debunking stereotypes and fostering a sense of ownership of the natural environment.
– De-escalating conflict, including potentially violent conflict.
– Finding co-operative solutions between all parties to manage the cost and logistics of protecting animals.

At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we run the U.S.’s first animal rights mediation clinic. We are caring, well- educated mediators who recognize a need to find common ground between human and animal interests as the human population grows and territories begin to overlap. We use mathematical and psychoanalytical tools to assess the interests of all parties in any dispute. We are available 7 days a week and at urgent notice in a crisis. Please visit us at our offices in Irvine, CA, Boulder, CO and Campbell CA or contact us via telephone, Skype, Zoom or Facetime.

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