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University of Idaho

Conflict between Wolves and Humans in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States
Communication Campaign Plan
Jessica Billman
ENGL 522
March 2015

The current conflict between wolves and humans in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) of
the United States creates an unsustainable situation for all parties involved. Concerned with
protecting livestock from wolf depredation, many farmers and ranchers of the NRM are opposed
to wolf reintroduction efforts (Muhly & Musiani 2009) and wish to eliminate wolves from the
NRM. But mounting evidence strongly suggests that wolves, as a top predator in the NRM, are
crucial for maintaining healthy, biologically diverse ecosystems (Wolf Restoration 2015).
The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers in the NRM depends on the health of the ecosystem, and
the health of the ecosystem in the NRM region depends on the presence of a successful wolf
population. In this way, although they may believe wolves are the enemy, farmers and ranchers
in fact depend on the wolves. In short, peaceful solutions to the wolf-human conflict in the
NRM must be developed to ensure successful futures for both wolves and humans.
The primary goal of this communication campaign is to distribute information to farmers and
ranchers in the NRM about the key role wolves play in maintaining healthy ecosystems and
about nonlethal wolf management techniques. Secondary goals are for that information to be
assimilated and accepted and for nonlethal wolf management techniques to be adopted or
developed by NRM farmers and ranchers. Information will be distributed in two ways: through
the establishment of a website dedicated to providing information about the role wolves play in
the ecosystem, about development and implementation of nonlethal wolf management
techniques, and success stories; and through live presentations delivered at agricultural
conventions in the NRM.
This long-term campaign will be executed over the course of five years. Progress will be
assessed at the ends of the second and third years; the overall success of the campaign will be
assessed at the end of the fifth year.

The target audience of this campaign consists of farmers and ranchers in the NRM who are under
the age of 50 years. Targeting this audience actually contradicts the results of recent research:
according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, conducted by the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA), the average age of principal operators in agricultural operations was 58.3
years old (2012 Census 2014). In fact, according to the census, there were more operators in
2012 over the age of 75 than operators between the ages of 35 to 44 (2012 Census 2014) (see
Figure 1).
Figure 1 (2012 Census 2014)

However, targeting farmers and ranchers under the age of 50 will provide information to the age
groups that will have the most influence over the future course of wolf management techniques.

By targeting those under 50, the second-largest operator age group (ages 45 to 54) will still be
partially included. Additionally, everyone in the younger age groups (35 to 44 years, 25 to 34
years, and under 25 years) will be included, targeting those who will eventually head all
agricultural operations in the U.S. Younger adults across all professions are more likely to use
the Internet (Smith 2014), and younger generations of agricultural operators, specifically, are
more likely to adopt and implement new technology in agricultural operations (Wessler 2014).
Not only does this suggest that younger farmers and ranchers are more likely to receive
information from this communication campaign, but it also increases the potential that these
farmers and ranchers will integrate technology-based nonlethal wolf management techniques into
their operations in the future. For example, new technology being developed by Swiss wolf
expert Jean-Marc Landry could allow shepherds to be alerted via text message if their sheep
were being threatened by wolves (Sheep 2012). With this technique, sheep are fitted with a
special collar that monitors their heart rates. If a sheeps heart rate rises over a certain threshold
for a certain amount of time, it implies that the animal could be stressed or afraid, and a text
message will be sent to the shepherd, who then knows to check on the flock (Sheep 2012). Other
agricultural technologies are also being developed, including technology for tracking the
location, feeding patterns, and overall health of livestock (Plaats 2011).
This campaign will feature three main messages:
1. Wolf attacks are not a primary cause of livestock deaths each year.
2. Nonlethal wolf management techniques are available and effective.
3. Wolves are essential to maintaining healthy ecosystems.
Each of these messages is likely to raise opposition from at least some members of the target
audience. One of the primary arguments against wolf reintroduction in the NRM is that wolves
are responsible for killing livestock and costing farmers and ranchers money. In 2010, however,
of all reported causes of death of cattle nationwide, wolves were responsible for only 0.2 percent
of cattle deathsthe second-lowest cause (bears were the lowest, at 0.1 percent) (Livestock n.d.).

The number one cause of cattle deaths in 2010 was respiratory problems at 26 percent; the top
seven causes of cattle deaths in 2010, accounting for 90 percent of all deaths, were all health- or
weather-related (Livestock n.d.). Additionally, the number one carnivore-related cause of death
for both cattle and sheep in 2010 was not wolves, but coyotes (Livestock n.d.). The fact that
coyotes were the number one predator of livestock in 2010 is, in fact, a strong argument for the
reintroduction of wolves: as observed in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) since the
reintroduction of wolves there in 1995, local coyote populations decline as wolf populations
recover (Wolf Restoration 2015).
Nonlethal wolf management techniques may be eschewed in favor of simply killing wolves;
indeed, for a rancher dealing with wolf attacks on his livestock, a gun or poison is a fast,
effective, and permanent way of eliminating the threat of that particular wolf. Nonlethal
techniques often take more time to set up and a greater commitment to maintain. But when
properly implemented and maintained, nonlethal methods such as fladry barriers and guard dogs
have proven effective at reducing the number of deaths of livestock and of wolves (Protection
2013). Such techniques benefit human and wolf populations, as well as local ecosystems.
As seen in YNP and Idaho since the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, wolves are crucial in
maintaining healthy ecosystems. Top predators like wolves prevent grazing species like deer, elk
and moose from becoming overpopulated and overbrowsing the forest understory. Wolf kills
also create food sources for other species: in YNP, for instance, carcasses left by wolf kills
become food for hungry grizzlies and smaller, scavenging species (Wolf Restoration 2015). In
short, healthy wolf populations support greater biodiversity, keep the populations of grazing
species in check, and help to regulate the populations of smaller predators like coyotes (Wolf
Restoration 2015).
To effectively spread these messages, the most appropriate spokespeople would most likely be
members of the NRM ranching and farming communities. Scientists and analysts run the risk of
being viewed as outsiders or of not understanding the particular needs and struggles of the
agricultural community; as a result, messages spread by scientists or analysts may be ignored or
rejected outright. However, if these messages come from members of the ranching and farming

communities, the spokespeople and the messages are more likely to be trusted and accepted by
community members. To be consistent with the target audience of ranchers and farmers under 50
years of age, the spokespeople should also be below the age of 50, preferably between the ages
of 35 and 44. Members in this age group are likely to be seen as old enough to be experienced in
their profession, which lends them credibility, while still being young enough to relate to the
rising generations of agricultural operators, which makes them more easily accepted.
Media List
The primary media used in this campaign will be the Internet and live presentations delivered at
agricultural conventions in the NRM.
A website will be developed and published that will be dedicated to providing information on
nonlethal wolf management techniques, success stories of those techniques, new and developing
technologies that may improve livestock and wolf management, and the role wolves play in
maintaining healthy ecosystems. The website will also include links to the websites, Facebook
pages, and Twitter feeds of established organizations that support wolf reintroduction. The site
will be maintained on a regular basis and updated as new information surfaces. This website will
be a source of information that can be accessed by anyone, at any time, for free. Using the
Internet as an information medium should be particularly effective in reaching the target
audience, and the effectiveness of this medium is likely to increase with time: from 1999 to
2013, Internet usage worldwide has increased tenfold, and the number continues to rise each year
(Internet n.d.). As the number of new paid television subscriptions continues to decline every
year (Yarow 2013), the Internet is poised to become a major, if not the primary, source of news
and information for people worldwide.
To add a more human element to the campaign, and to reach audience members who may not be
frequenting the website, live presentations will be delivered at agricultural conventions in the
NRM. To start with, four conventions in the NRM have been identified: the Ag Expo in
Spokane, WA; the Northern International Livestock Exposition in Billings, MT; the Eastern
Idaho Ago Expo in Pocatello, ID; and the Montana Agri-Trade Exposition in Billings, MT. By

hiring professional presenters and sending them to these conventions, this campaign will have a
live presence and be able to communicate more in-depth information than what may be available
on the website. Although the website will be available to provide information 24 hours a day to
anyone, live presentations have several advantages over a website. In a live presentation, there
are opportunities to interact with the audience and gauge their reactions to the information; a
presenter can also better emphasize key points and assess whether or not messages are being
accepted by the audience (Communication 2014). An effective live presenter may also be able to
attract the attention of target audience members that may not have initially been interested in
nonlethal wolf management techniques or in how it may be in farmers and ranchers best
interests to protect wolf populations. The list of targeted conventions can be revised over the
course of the campaign, depending on the judged effectiveness of presenting at each one.
Advertising for the presentations can be posted on the website by the website manager at no
additional cost. Advertising for the website itself will be through search engines. If someone
uses a search engine and inputs one or more of certain predefined keywords, an ad for the
website will be triggered to appear with the search results (Tarro 2011). If a user searches for
specific terms often enough, ads for the website will be triggered to appear on other web pages
that the user visits (known as behavioral-targeted advertising) (Tarro 2011). While ultimately,
there is no control over whether or not the user will click on an advertisement, this method has
been shown to be successful at reaching a targeted audience (Tarro 2011). Furthermore,
behavioral-targeted advertising is more cost-effective than more general types of advertising,
costing an estimated $0.61 per person who clicks on an ad and also becomes a consumer of the
advertised product compared to $0.71 per person in generic advertising (Tarro 2011). There will
be no product to consume in this campaignbut these statistics are a promising indicator that
this method of advertising will reach the target audience.
Ads will be periodically revised and updated along with the updating of the website.

See Table 1 for an estimated budget. All cost estimates are based on information from the
corresponding sources listed below the table.
Table 1 Estimated Production, Maintenance, and Personnel Costs
Presentations (includes cost of hiring
presenter and preparing presentation)*
- Planning, design, and development
(including initial ad design)**
- Domain**
- Hosting**
- Maintenance (including ad updates)**
- Advertising (cost of posting ads
Total Costs
* Hurt 2010
** How Much 2014
*** Costs n.d.



Total Cost/

Total Cost/

















This communication campaign is designed to run for a total of five years (see Figure 3 for
project breakdown). Most of the project sections will be performed continuously over the five
years, with the exception of website design and development, which will be completed up front.
Assessments to gauge progress will be performed at the ends of years two and three, and a final
assessment to judge the campaigns success will be performed at the end of year five.
Figure 3 Estimated Timeline of Communication Campaign



- Planning, Design and
- Domain
- Hosting
- Maintenance
- Advertising
Convention Presentations
= Active




See Table 2 for a campaign assessment rubric. This rubric will be used to assess progress at the
ends of years two and three, and to assess overall success at the end of year five. The campaign
will be considered successful if, at the end of five years, it receives a score of 20 or higher.
Table 2 Assessment Rubric
Website launched within

Scoring Criterion
Award 5 points if website is launched

the first year

Website is maintained

within Year 1
Award 5 points if website has been kept

with relevant information

up-to-date and added new information and

and stories
Generate website traffic

stories about wolf management techniques

via advertising on search

engines and convention
Decrease in reported wolf
attacks on livestock

Score (1-5)

Award 5 points if new website traffic has

increased 10 percent over the previous
year (with the exception of Year 1)
Award 5 points if reported wolf attacks
have decreased by 10 percent from the
previous year

Decrease in livestock
deaths caused by wolves,

Award 5 points if reported livestock losses

or livestock losses caused

due to these two causes have decreased 10

by frightened animals

percent from the previous year

running from wolves

Award 5 points if the NRM wolf
Stable wolf population is

population has remained relatively stable

maintained in the NRM

or grown or decreased by a healthy

amount since the previous year
Total Points Awarded:


/25 (Year 1 only)

/30 (Years 2-5)

This communication campaign is designed to run continuously over the course of five years, at
the end of which time the campaign will be assessed to determine if it was successful or not. By
utilizing the combination of a website and live presentations and by targeting ranchers and
farmers below the age of 50 in the NRM, the campaign is intended to reach a large number of the
individuals who will have the most influence in determining the future of wolf management in
the NRM. And while targeted at those under the age of 50, the campaign is not exclusive of
ranchers and farmers over the age of 50the campaign will be accessible to anyone who has
access to the Internet.
By providing up-to-date information about nonlethal wolf management techniques, new
technology, and the importance of a healthy wolf population in the NRM, this campaign seeks to
help facilitate the development and adoption of sustainable wolf management methods.
Ultimately, it is up to the ranchers and farmers of the NRM to create peaceful solutions to the
wolf-human conflictand this campaign can help provide the information and success stories
needed to create those solutions.

Works Cited
2012 Census Drilldown: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (2014, May 28). Retrieved March
28, 2015 from
Communication Skills Advantages and Disadvantages of Presentations (2014). Retrieved
March 28, 2015 from
Costs. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2015 from
How Much Does A Small Business Website Cost in 2014? (2014). Retrieved March 27, 2015
Hurt, Jeff (2010, October 5). Cheat Sheet For Hiring And Paying Professional Speakers.
Retrieved March 27, 2015 from
Internet Users (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2015 from
Livestock Losses (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2015 from
Muhly, T. B., & Musiani, M. (2009, May 4). Livestock depredation by wolves and the ranching
economy in the Northwestern U.S. [Electronic version]. Ecological Economics, 68 (2009),
Plaats, William V. (2011, November 10). Innovative Technology Changing Life Back On The
Ranch and Farm. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from

Protected no longer, more than 550 gray wolves killed this season by hunters and trappers (2013,
March 6). Retrieved March 28, 2015 from
Sheep to warn of wolves via text message (2012, August 6). Retrieved March 28, 2015 from
Smith, Aaron (2014, April 3). Older Adults and Technology Use. Retrieved March 28, 2015
Tarro, Mark. (December 2011). INSIDER: Establishing an Effective Search Engine Marketing
Campaign. Retrieved May 9, 2015 from
Wessler, Brett (2014, January 30). Young farmers and ranchers embracing technology in the
field. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from
Wolf Restoration Continued (2015, March 28). Retrieved March 28, 2015 from
Yarow, Jay (2013, November 1). Chart of the Day: The Death Of Cable TV. Retrieved March
28, 2015 from