Farmers and ranchers taking steps to coexist with some of our most important native predator species will benefit from a new third-party audited certification program audited by Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), designed specifically to assess as well as reward wildlife conservation practices achieved at the farm or ranch level.
 
Following a three-year partnership project with Predator Friendly, and the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (which has now subsumed the
Predator Friendly® label under its global umbrella), AWA, widely recognized as the most trusted food label when it comes to animal welfare and sustainable farming, is proud to announce the development of the "Certified Wildlife Friendly®" program, which incorporates comprehensive standards and third-party auditing procedures to assess key wildlife conservation practices on farms and ranches across the U.S. and Canada.
 
Native predator species, such as coyotes, bears, wolves and mountain lions, are critical to the functioning of ecosystems, helping to keep nature in balance. As livestock farms and ranches have expanded, however, problems have frequently occurred where predators come into direct contact with farmed animals, such as sheep and cattle. By adopting mixes of non-lethal strategies and techniques, such as scheduling pasture use when predation pressure is low and using guardian dogs to deter predators, farmers and ranchers can keep livestock safe and wildlife alive without resorting to lethal control measures. Using these techniques reduces the risk of conflict between farming and conservation objectives.

The new "Certified Wildlife Friendly®" program is designed identify products from farmers and ranchers who are committed to coexistence with our native predators. The program was developed to meet the demands of the growing number of conscientious consumers seeking these products. Farmers and ranchers who undergo a third-party audit and demonstrate compliance with strict standards on wildlife conservation can market their produce as "Certified Wildlife Friendly®."
 
Over the next few months trained auditors from AWA will assess the first group of farms. AWA will be responsible for all future third-party farm and ranch audits under the new program, and in keeping with common auditing protocols, the results will be assessed for consistency and outcome. After the initial pilot stage, the new "Certified Wildlife Friendly®" audit will become available to any farm or ranch at no cost when combined with an AWA audit. The "Certified Wildlife Friendly®" adds to the label options for sustainable high welfare farms and ranches across the U.S. and Canada.
 
Andrew Gunther, Program Director at Animal Welfare Approved, says, "When I was presenting at the Wildlife Friendly meeting in Florida I realized what a great opportunity we had to grow our organization with the "Certified Wildlife Friendly ®" seal. It’s a natural fit with our organizational goals and this new seal will further demonstrate the commitment of AWA farmers and ranchers to high-welfare, sustainable farming practices."
 
Abigail Breuer, Predator Friendly Program Director for the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network says, "AWA was the logical partner in developing our new program. AWA’s knowledge and expertise has been crucial to our developmental processes and we can finally recognize producers who maintain habitat and conserve wildlife as part of their production systems."
 
Ray Victurine, Board President of Wildlife Friendly, says, "Today’s announcement marks a crucial step in the mission of Wildlife Friendly to save ecologies by developing economies. This program helps expand the reach of our mission to now include some of the most important habitats and species across the U.S. and Canada, while at the same time improving the business opportunities for truly sustainable farms."