Ovis aries, Capra aegagrus hircus, Bos taurus
The Guardian Shepherd Program
Wildlife – Friendly Ranching – first introduced in CA 1998
The Guardian Shepherd Program (GSP) was the first comprehensive non-lethal livestock protection program in the United States. It was designed by Mary Paglieri, Director of Little Blue Society, in 1998, with input from Marin County Agricultural Commissioner, Stacy Carlsen, for California’s West Marin sheep ranching community.
The GSP was created by request of Commissioner Carlsen. It was included in the Commissioner’s “Marin County Strategic Plan for Livestock and Wildlife Protection” a five-year pilot program to develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate a sustainable (non-lethal) livestock/wildlife protection program. It was designed to specifically phase out the USDA Wildlife Service’s (WS) lethal program. You can read more about the GSP in the county document here (scroll down to highlighted sections on pages 6 and 12). The county’s former costs for the USDA Program was slated to be redirected to this Plan to assist the ranchers with a more ecologically sound approach to protect livestock.
The GSP was designed to create a win-win solution for all stakeholders, including wildlife, and to mend the highly contentious rift that had developed between a coalition of animal advocacy groups called the “Marin Coalition for California Wildlife” over the lethal management of bobcats, coyotes, foxes and raccoons, and the County, including the ranchers.
On October 31, 2000, Mary Paglieri was invited to present the non-lethal management components of the GSP included in the Commissioner’s Strategic Plan at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting. The County Meeting Minutes can be read here (scroll down to highlighted section).
Components of the GPS included:
- Exclusionary fencing that is properly constructed and maintained to keep out predators and increase the efficacy of guard animals i.e. llamas, donkeys and guard dogs.
- Guardian Shepherds imported from Mongolia or Peru would be trained by LBS to protect the flocks, using the most current visual and auditory deterrents.
- Community Outreach to teach the ranchers damage prevention, using the most current methods for discouraging predatory wildlife, and improving animal husbandry techniques.
- Development of a Strategic Marketing Plan to increase revenue.
The Supervisors voted to accept the Commissioner’s alternative non-lethal Strategic Plan, and cease contracting with the USDA, ending its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WS. A sunset provision was provided for the USDA WS to phase out its operations, and to place control for the administration of the Plan in the hands of the North Bay Woolgrowers Association. The article by the Marin Independent Journal covering the meeting can be read here.
On March 31, 2001, The non-lethal program: “Marin County Strategic Plan for Livestock and Wildlife Protection” was presented to the North Bay Woolgrowers Association by Commissioner Carlsen, Antita Sauber, Marin County Inspector III, and Mary Paglieri, Director of Little Blue Society, at the North Bay Woolgrowers Spring Field Day event. See the agenda here.
Commissioner Carlsen and the County Department of Agriculture eventually took charge of the Plan, further developing and administering the components of the GSP to meet the needs of the sheep-ranching community. View the County’s program here.
On June 30, 2002, Marin County’s MOU with WS officially came to an end.
Update on the Marin County Strategic Plan for Livestock and Wildlife Protection
November 8, 2005: Read Commissioner Carlsen’s letter to the Board of Supervisors here.
November 31, 2005: Read the article in the Marin Independent Journal about the Plan and visit from Prince Charles here.
January 30, 2001, Mary Paglieri was invited by Commissioner Carlsen to participate in a meeting at the Tomales Town Hall with the Marin County sheep ranchers concerning coyote control and predator management. She was there to answer questions about the non-lethal components of the Plan. The agenda can be seen here.
February 22, 2001. A meeting to learn more about the components of the GSP was hosted by a ranching family with historical roots in West Marin.
April 5, 2001. A “thank you” Letter was received from Stephanie Larson Ph.D., Director of University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County. Dr. Larson is the Livestock and Range Management Advisor, conducting education and research to integrate dairy and livestock production with rangeland management in Sonoma and Marin Counties. The letter can be read here.