Formerly known separately as our Range Riders and Wolf Coexistence programs, Keystone combined these efforts and refined our focus into a three-fold approach that simultaneously promotes land health and biodiversity, human-wildlife coexistence and sustainable rural communities. We renamed this multi-faceted program Rangeland Stewardship to emphasize our ecosystem-based management theory.
The vast landscapes that support large herds of grazing animals and their predators, known as rangelands, are the quintessential landscapes of the American West. Today most of these lands support both wildlife and livestock. Rangelands provide most of the habitat for animals like bison, deer, elk, and pronghorn as well as for wolves, coyotes, grizzly bears, and mountain lions. This is also where those carnivores come into conflict with livestock and humans, often triggering control actions, thus reducing habitat availability.
This is where Keystone’s Rangeland Stewardship program comes in. We develop and implement win-win-win solutions for people, land, and wildlife in the Northern Rockies. Much of this takes the form of working with the ranching community to prevent conflicts with large carnivores and improve rangeland health—the proper functioning of ecological processes, and the capacity of the land to produce ecosystem services, biological diversity, and wildlife habitat.
The effects of grazing on the land can be positive or negative—it all depends on how the grazing is managed. Ranchers can use some of the same management approaches that work for land health and livestock production to prevent conflicts with large carnivores. We can prevent predators from switching from wild prey to livestock, essentially by changing the way livestock behave on the landscape and in the presence of predators, such that those livestock are at least as difficult for a predator to kill as deer and elk are. We cannot expect to prevent all depredations, but we may be able to keep them to a lower, opportunistic level, thereby increasing human tolerance and decreasing control actions.
Livestock are much easier to manage than wildlife is, so we provide resources to and partner with ranchers to develop and implement sustainable livestock management best practices. Strategic management sets a context where we use range riders, and tools such as fencing, fladry, night penning, and livetock guarding dogs to more effectively prevent livestock-wildlife conflicts, expand available habitat for carnivores, improve rangeland health, and support resilient ranching communities.
Learn about tools that can be used in combination with management to reduce conflicts here.