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Wildlife agency tries flagging to deter wolves

— In some parts of the state, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is using a rudimentary method known as fladry to deter wolves from an area containing livestock.

Fladry — strips of plastic flagging hung on a wire around an area with livestock, sometimes in conjunction with an electric fence — has been used recently near Wenatchee, as well as parts of Kittitas and Stevens counties.

However, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is not currently employing fladry in Okanogan County, Regional Wildlife Manager Matt Monda said.

Monda said fladry only makes sense in certain situations, mostly at the request of a livestock operator.

“Where we’re using those right now is where we have a cooperative agreement with a livestock operator where we’re working to proactively reduce the chance of a problem,” Monda said.

Even then, fladry is only a temporary fix. Initially the flapping red ribbons scare off the wolves, but “they’re not going to be nervous for very long,” Monda said.

“If they really want to get in there, if there’s something that’s really attracting them into that area, it’s only going to have a short-term effect.”

Monda said Carlton rancher Bernard Thurlow, who had a calf killed by a wolf in 2012, was approached about the idea of using fladry at one point, but “it didn’t really work for him. It wasn’t really something he desired.”

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