WDC19068: Managing Human-Wildlife Conflicts on Working Landscapes

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

WDC19068: Managing Human-Wildlife Conflicts on Working Landscapes

Duration: 05/01/2023 to 09/30/2026

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Non-Technical Summary

Statement of Issues and Justification

Western landscapes and their natural resources are vital to sustaining wildlife diversity and agricultural production while also supporting local economies and beyond, including ranching families, their employees, and their product and service suppliers. Rural working lands (e.g., farms, ranches, forest) play a vital role in securing future energy, water, food, and fiber for an ever-expanding human population while supplying a wealth of ecological, and societal values including abundant wildlife, clean air and water, carbon sequestration, recreational opportunities, open space, and scenic beauty (Gosnell et al. 2006, Crane et al. 2016). Additionally, grazing management plays a primary role in the quality and extent of wildlife habitat in these western landscapes. Although livestock grazing can negatively affect wildlife, rangeland management practices that produce structurally diverse vegetation can provide quality habitats for wildlife species (McNew et al. 2013, 2015; Milligan et al. 2020; Vold et al. 2019). Economically viable working lands also serve as a stronghold against the threat of subdivision and development (Gosnell et al. 2006, Haggerty and Travis 2006, Crane et al. 2016) and help supply the resilient and connected landscapes that many wildlife species need. However, across much of the western US, successful recovery large predators and their native prey bases places greater pressure on rural working lands by concentrating livestock and wildlife on an increasingly fragmented landscape, making conflict inevitable (Gosnell et al. 2006, Mosley and Mundinger 2018, Yonk et al. 2018).

Wildlife-livestock conflicts (e.g., depredation by predators, disease transmission, forage competition, etc.) disrupt operation, cause major agricultural losses, and substantial economic damage (Côté et al. 2004, Haggerty and Travis 2006, Wells et al. 2019). These losses often place working lands and rural communities in opposition to wildlife and wildland protection (Harris 2020, Macon 2020). Additionally, economic marginality and ecological insecurity on western ranching operations create pressures to sell ranches for other land uses (Sayre et al. 2013) that are often detrimental to biodiversity and habitat connectivity (Havstad et al. 2007). Thus, a central goal of both ecosystem conservation and agricultural production across western landscapes should be to develop and sustain adaptive strategies that minimize wildlife conflicts to enhance the functionality of rural working lands to support both wildlife and human communities.


  1. Create a new multistate project focused on more effectively exchanging knowledge and integrating existing biological, ecological and economic data to make comprehensive science-based recommendations for reducing wildlife conflict on western working landscapes.
  2. Work collaboratively across jurisdictional lines to create stronger partnerships to build integrative resources and disseminate timely and unbiased to the broader community of landowners and managers across the west to more effectively engage and increase awareness and adoption of research and best management practices for reducing wildlife conflicts.
  3. Identify areas for future collaboration between land-grant universities and other stakeholders.

Procedures and Activities

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan


Literature Cited

Crane, K.K., J.C. Mosley, T.K. Brewer, W.L.F. Torstenson, and M.W. Tess. 2016. Elk foraging site selection on foothill and mountain rangeland in spring. Rangeland Ecology and Management 69:319–325.

Gosnell, H., J.H. Haggerty, and W.R. Travis. 2006. Ranchland ownership change in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 1990–2001: implications for conservation. Society and Natural resources, 19:743–758.

McNew, L.B., A.J. Gregory, and B.K. Sandercock. 2013. Spatial heterogeneity in habitat selection: Nest site selection by greater prairie‐chickens. The Journal of Wildlife Management 77:791–801.

McNew, L.B., V.L. Winder, J.C. Pitman, and B.K. Sandercock. 2015. Alternative rangeland management and the nesting ecology of greater prairie-chickens. Rangeland Ecology and Management 68:298–304.

Milligan, M.C., L.I. Berkeley, and L.B. McNew. 2020. Effects of rangeland management on the nesting ecology of sharp-tailed grouse. Rangeland Ecology and Management 73:128–137.

Vold, S.K., L.I. Berkeley, and L.B. McNew. 2019. Effects of livestock grazing management on grassland birds in a northern mixed-grass prairie ecosystem. Rangeland Ecology and Management 72:933–945.

Haggerty, J.H., and W.R. Travis. 2006. Out of administrative control: absentee owners, resident elk and the shifting nature of wildlife management in southwestern Montana. Geoforum 37:816–830.

Mosley, J.C., and J.G. Mundinger. 2018. History and status of wild ungulate populations on the Northern Yellowstone Range. Rangelands, 40:189–201.

Yonk, R.M., J.C. Mosley, and P.O. Husby. 2018. Human influences on the Northern Yellowstone Range. Rangelands 40:177–188.

Côté, S.D., T.P. Rooney, J. Tremblay, C. Dussault, and D.M. Waller. 2004. Ecological impacts of deer overabundance. Annual Review of Ecological and Evolutionary Systems 35:113–147.

Wells, S.L., L.B. McNew, D.B. Tyers, F.T. Van Manen, and D.J. Thomson. 2019. Grizzly bear depredation on grazing allotments in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Journal of Wildlife Management 83:556–566.

Harris, R. 2020. Literature review of livestock compensation programs: considering ways to assist livestock producers with grizzly bear conservation efforts in Montana. Western Landowners Alliance. Available online https://westernlandowners.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Review-of-livestock-compensation-programs-052620.pdf

Macon, D. 2020. Paying for the presence of predators: an evolving approach to compensating ranchers. Rangelands 42:43–52.

Wells, S.L., L.B. McNew, D.B. Tyers, F.T. Van Manen, and D.J. Thomson. 2019. Grizzly bear depredation on grazing allotments in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Journal of Wildlife Management 83:556–566.

Havstad, K.M., D.P. Peters, R. Skaggs, J. Brown, B. Bestelmeyer, E. Fredrickson, ...and J. Wright. 2007. Ecological services to and from rangelands of the United States. Ecological Economics 64:261–268.

Sayre, N.F., R.J. McAllister, B.T. Bestelmeyer, M. Moritz, and M.D. Turner. 2013. Earth stewardship of rangelands: coping with ecological, economic and political marginality. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11:348–354.


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, Utah State University
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