Malou Anderson-Ramirez is leading a movement in modern ranching and conservation, identifying innovative solutions to shared landscapes with livestock and endangered species.
As a third-generation rancher, Malou appreciates the unique responsibility she and her family have to protect the landscape. They’ve learned to ranch alongside a host of threatened species on their ranch in the Tom Miner Basin, the grizzly bear corridor skirting Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary.
For generations, her family has been confronting the realities of ranching in predator country, adopting increasingly progressive methods to coexist. Through the Tom Miner Basin Association (TMBA) which she helped found, Malou works to protect functioning ecosystems while offering financial assistance to ranchers in four key areas: range riding, portable electric fencing and fladry, carcass management and wildlife tracking.
Progressive Ranching Practices:
Riders survey herds on horseback to find carcasses in time for ranchers to receive government compensation for loss. Corraling 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 last calf is born to prevent habituation (becoming accustomed to the installment and thus ignoring.)
Disposing or moving dead livestock away from cattle so predators are not habituated to associate them with livestock.
Learning the behaviors of wildlife frequenting an area and managing livestock accordingly.
As one example, for the past eight years the Anderson Ranch has been using fladry around their calving grounds with 100% success rate. They now make it available for free to area ranchers through TMBA.
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 creating could be pivotal to the 21st century survival of the West, its wildlife and the ranchers themselves.
Which leads me to yet another inspirational initiative she’s leading as an entrepreneur: TEAL Tags. A movement in modern ranching and conservation, TEAL Tags (short for: Technology, Education, Agricuture + Landscape) offers an innovative solution for ranchers to share landscapes with endangered species.
The tags are small microchips placed in the livestock’s ear to survey wellness through body temperature, heart rate and respiration. They 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 attacks. This mitigates the financial reasons ranchers kill endangered species. And of course this stands to scale to geo-fencing. (See Malou’s NatGeo Chasing Genius video on the landing page.)
What’s needed now is investment from impact-oriented individuals and institutions that understand and prioritize a patient capital model, long-term investment strategies that holistically support rural communities, an endangered ecosystem and a profession concurrently.
Highlighting initiatives like those Malou is leading are an essential part of the Ground In Common mission. And on a personal note, the more I get to know her, the more I realize what a local treasure she is in Paradise Valley. To the impact investors out there, here’s a great opportunity!