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Harmony in the Wild: Balancing Ranching with Predator Preservation

A nature tech solution that enables shared landscapes with livestock and endangered species in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

For those inhabiting the rural landscapes of the American West, there is a strong association with ingenuity, resourcefulness, independence, and determination. 

These are laudable characteristics, and in 2024 an increasing number of land stewards are reconsidering what it means to live within these wild lands; evolving philosophies and practices to account for shifting realities and new ways of thinking. 

This is especially true for those hoping to thrive in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), the last in-tact ecosystem outside of the Serengeti and home to apex predators like wolves and grizzly bears.     

One of the leaders at the heart of this transition is Malou Anderson-Ramirez; rancher, land steward, and Founder of TEAL Tags (short for Technology, Education, Agriculture + Landscape.)  TEAL Tags is an early-stage start-up that leverages technology as a conservation tool, offering an innovative solution for ranchers to share landscapes with endangered species.  

How does it work? The tags are small microchips placed in the livestock’s ear to survey wellness through accelerometer data. Later this will include body temperature, heart rate, and respiration. The Tags pair with a smartphone that’s programmed to send immediate alerts with abnormal changes in livestock vital signs using IoT edge analytics.  

 This is important because ranchers can either steer off a predator encounter or find the carcass in time to qualify for funds that compensate ranchers for livestock losses due to predator attacks. This mitigates the financial reasons ranchers often kill endangered predators.

Grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions are responsible for over 100 confirmed livestock kills annually in Montana. The Montana Livestock Loss Board tracks these statistics as well as the fiscal reimbursements to the ranchers. Photo: Harry Collins

The tracking also helps ranchers identify wildlife patterns (migration, eating, etc) which in turn enables an etude land steward to adapt grazing practices accordingly. It’s another way of instilling more accountability for the domestic animals that humans have put on a wild landscape.

We were fortunate to get a few minutes of Malou’s time for this week’s Nature IS podcast and web series. Listen or watch and you’ll see how, as a third-generation rancher, Malou appreciates the unique responsibility she and her family have to protect the landscape as she shares some of the techniques they’ve learned to ranch alongside a host of threatened species on their ranch in the Tom Miner Basin, the grizzly bear migratory corridor skirting Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary.

When speaking to Malou, it’s clear her ethos is to work with the surrounding landscape and its inhabitants, not to dominate. What’s also evident is how ranchers are crucial partners in the preservation of open spaces across rural America. The solutions Malou is co-creating could be pivotal to the 21st-century survival of the West, its wildlife, and the ranchers themselves.

Progressive Ranching Practices:

Range Riding

Riders survey herds on horseback to find carcasses in time for ranchers to receive government compensation for loss. Corralling herds together at dawn and dusk also rekindles wild herd instincts, which naturally protect the cattle from predators. 

Electric Fencing + Fladry

Rectangular red flags are attached to electric fencing around calving pastures to deter wolves and grizzlies. The shape is off-putting as it does not naturally occur in nature, but must be taken down as soon as the last calf is born to prevent habituation  (becoming accustomed to the installment and thus ignoring.)

Carcass Management

Disposing or moving dead livestock away from cattle so predators are not habituated to associate them with livestock. 

Wildlife Tracking

Learning the behaviors of wildlife frequenting an area and managing livestock accordingly. 

References from the podcast, and broader inspiration:


Tom Miner Basin Association 

Lara Birkes

My mission is to help individuals and organizations understand our reliance on the natural world, and to adopt behaviors that allow our planet to flourish.

Website Montana



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