Like many ranchers, Bill Jensen drives a pickup, shoots a high-powered rifle and loves to talk about sheep, cattle and the outdoors. But unlike many ranchers, he no longer relies on the federal government for predator control. Nor does the Marin County rancher have a choice. Ten years ago Marin, known for its environmental activism, halted lethal federal control and launched a program emphasizing nonlethal methods. Jensen, initially skeptical, has turned the program into a success with miles of electric fencing. What's happening in Marin County shows that ranchers can co-exist with predators without lethal federal control. It is part of a broader and varied spirit of reform aimed at finding new, less destructive ways to live with predators and other wildlife. The target of that effort, a little-known division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called Wildlife Services, has long specialized in destroying animals considered to be a threat to agriculture, the public and the environment.
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