Raising U.S. livestock on the front-line with large, potentially dangerous animals isn’t for the faint hearted. Black and Grizzly Bear, mountain lion, wolves and coyote all feature and that’s without predation from the air by eagles, ravens and vultures.

This week on The Whole Shebang, host John Wilkes looks into the highly charged issue of livestock predation/carnivore protection is currently very much center-stage as environmental groups and the agricultural sector slug it out yet again. Historically there’s little middle ground for managing intimate contact between America’s top carnivores and domesticated farm animals. Whereas people only used to bump into big nature out on its turf, large carnivores may now appear on their doorstep. Discussing this hot topic our panel includes:

Cat Urbigit, Wyoming sheep rancher, reporter, author, wildlife photographer, blogger and owner/editor of The Shepherd Magazine, she’s a stout defender for the need to protect livestock against predation but also readily appreciates differing public perceptions of large carnivores. Her latest book When Man Becomes Prey: Fatal Encounters With North America’s Most Feared Predators, 2014 – is pretty self-explanatory.

Professor Luigi Boitani, Head of the Department of Animal and Human Biology, University La Sapienza, Rome, is a renowned authority on large carnivores, their reintroduction, recolonisation and management. He brings a wealth of experience gleaned from involvement with the European large carnivore situation. His work within LCIE – Large Carnivore Initiative For Europe has brought about EU legislation – The Habitat Directive – forcing member countries to maintain viable populations.

Dan Thompson, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Large Carnivore supervisor is charged with managing large carnivores throughout Wyoming. This task requires ensuring the perpetuity of animals such as grizzly bears and mountain lions on the landscape, while working with people from all walks of life to prevent and resolve conflicts yet raising awareness to keep people and livestock safe. The resurgence of large carnivores and successful management requires an understanding of each animal’s ecology as well as a strong level of commitment to public stakeholders – overseeing the intricacies of everything in between proves a sometimes difficult and challenging role.

So listen in and enjoy a call from the wild.

“There’s an inherent controversy involved with large carnivores and people – that’s just part of the job.” [21:00]

“Once you have an animal that can hurt or kill a person – it changes the game and opens up a lot of peoples eyes.” [23:00]

–Dan Thompson on The Whole Shebang

“Wolves are a difficult species – there’s a lot of cultural resistance.” [43:00]

–Luigi Boitani on The Whole Shebang

“When animals are relaxed, they spread out graze pretty easily. They don’t act like that after they’re subject to a predatory attack.” [60:00]

–Cat Urbigit on The Whole Shebamg