“The social component of wolf reintroduction is as important as any element of the issue. . .We know how to ecologically bring wolves back. What we've yet to learn is how to bring them back ecologically with due consideration to the human and economic dimensions. The emphasis on the ecological dimension while ignoring the other two will leave us with two casualties — wolves and rural communities.'' ~ Rick Knight, retired CSU professor, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Unit and livestock producer
The Working Circle Initiative
The Working Circle approach was formed in 2016 by California Wolf Center, it's partners, and Northern California ranchers to collaboratively discover and test strategies to reduce the vulnerability of livestock to large carnivores in an effort to minimize unnecessary losses of both livestock and wolves. Initial efforts were based on merging rancher knowledge of land and livestock with the skills and knowledge of experienced large carnivore biologists. The effort has since evolved to a more comprehensive approach that connects-the-dots between diverse practices that have demonstrated to not only decrease vulnerability in livestock to predation but to increase ranch sustainability based on the incorporation of grazing, range management, and wildlife ecology. In April 2020, Defenders of Wildlife launched the Working Circle Initiative in order to expand the scale of the Working Circle approach and ideals the model promotes. As an initiative of Defenders, the goal is to further bridge the gap of understanding between diverse voices surrounding predator recovery and sustainable ranching. This will help forward predator conservation through empowering ranch families as stewards of the land while honoring ranching in the West.
Today, WCI works towards creating healthy and resilient wild-working landscapes managed by ranch families that support diverse wildlife, including wolves and other large predators. And, through the conflict reduction strategies, the initiative forwards practices that improve, land, water, and wildlife habitat further creating long-term sustainability, resilience, and overall health to ecosystems. In addition to focusing on the on-ground strategies, WCI works to address the social-dynamic and challenges surrounding large carnivore conservation and sustainable ranching. We bring communities together to work towards solutions rather than against each other. We are committed to creating greater awareness, understanding, and respect for diverse values and perspectives.
We are focused on neutralizing the polarizing debate that has hindered the ability for wolves, livestock, and people to thrive on shared lands.Our partners include individuals from both the livestock community and environmental community, agency personnel, and NGO's that share our vision.
Working Circle was formed by the vision and input of many people: Joe Engelhart, Livestock Producer, Alberta, Canada Timmothy Kaminski, Mountain Livestock Cooperative, Montana, California, Oregon Hilary Anderson, Crazy D Ranch, Montana Breanna Owens, Cobblestone Ranch, California Patrick Griffin, Siskiyou County Wolf Representative and livestock producer, California Jessica Oddo, California Scott Sumner, Hart Ranch, Calfornia Karen Kovacs, former Project Director, CDFW Carter Niemeyer, Wildlife Biologist and Author Mark Coats, Coats Livestock, California Christina Souto, Conservationist and Adviser Jennifer Mueller, Field Biologist Karin Vardaman, WCI Manager and Working Circle Proactive Stewardship Founder and Patrick Valentino, Partner, Adviser, and original visionary behind the Working Circle approach
Thank you to all of our generous supporters!
OAKLAND ZOO: Defenders of Wildlife is honored to be a Conservation Partner of Oakland Zoo! We are deeply grateful for the generous support and vision of Oakland Zoo in enabling the Working Circle Initiative to better serve wolves and ranchers on shared California and Southern Oregon's landscapes. Learn more about Oakland Zoo's inspirational conservation work in California and around the globe.
CALIFORNIA WOLF CENTER: Without California Wolf Center's willingness to take risks and believe in a better way forward for wolves and the working lands they call home, Working Circle would have never been formed. We are tremendously grateful for California Wolf Center's pioneering efforts and continued vision for WCI work under Defenders of Wildlife..
WENDY P. McCAW FOUNDATION: Our valued and inspirational partner and supporter. Wendy P. McCaw Foundation allowed for the Working Circle vision to come to fruition.
REMIATTE FOUNDATION: Protecting animals domestic and wild, the Remiatte Foundation has generously supported wolves and ranching in California since 2016. STRONG FOUNDATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL VALUES; Supporting environmental stewardship in California communities, we are grateful for Strong Foundation's support of our work for wolves and supporting sustainable working lands.
A special thank you to all of our ranching partners who's visionary stewardship of our working lands, private and public, has led the way in creating a powerful new legacy in the west. A legacy that embraces, unites, and holds multiple values, promoting, protecting, and creating healthy and biologically diverse wild-working landscapes.