Hunting with Llamas and Other Uses
Llamas have proven to be highly effective pack animals for use with hunting. Their low maintenance requirements, self sufficiency, quiet demeanor, and ability to work off trail are all assets for hunting. Their load capacity of 80-100# on or off trail allows setting and supplying remote camps as well as hauling meat from successful hunts in those areas. A llama doesn't require much (2-3#) in the way of supplemental feed or equipment so virtually all their carrying capacity is used to haul hunting payload. Llamas are able to forage for all their own feed and to work at full capacity with intermittent availability of water. They are able to stay picketed in camp without oversight for extended periods. This simplifies campsite requirements and expands the range of suitable sites.
Llamas travel quietly as their padded hoof creates no loud hoof strike and their only vocalizing is occasional soft humming. They are non-reactive around meat and the smell of blood and they can efficiently carry meat from rough, remote kill sites. One hunter can easily load multiple llamas and subsequently handle them packing in a string. Ease of handling and quiet demeanor allow hunters to scout and hunt with llamas in tow without scaring or spooking their quarry. The llamas' acute vision, hearing, and sense of smell can be valuable assets in spotting or locating game for observant hunters employing them in their hunt.
Recreational Packing with Llamas
Independence, adaptability, and low-key demeanor combine to make llamas an ideal pack animal for recreational backcountry trips focused on fishing, climbing, or family fun. They blend well into the social dynamics of groups of various ages, levels of wilderness experience, and physical abilities. Llamas provide the capacity to haul the extra equipment for focus activities as well as camp basics for younger or less capable group members. Ease of handling and controlled reactivity allows younger or inexperienced hikers to participate in the handling and care of the animals adding a dimension of experience and education. The llamas' individual personalities contribute to the comradery of the group and often provide an avenue of entertainment.
Llamas for Use in Backcountry Maintenance
and Private Business
Government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and wildlife management agencies employ llamas in a variety of applications for wilderness and remote area management. Trail building and maintenance, facility management, fish and wildlife surveys, law enforcement, and fire fighting are some of the applications that llamas effectively support as pack stock. Ease of handling allows agency employees with little or no experience to effectively use llamas to increase productivity. Additionally, low maintenance requirements and ease of transport are big assets in budget management. Llamas' low impact on trails and the natural environment help preserve and enhance the resource agencies are charged with managing. The animals' natural compatibility with the public using these resources provides a great opportunity for interaction with management employees to educate the public about land management issues and natural resource preservation.
Llamas in Military Applications
Llamas have been used in limited military applications and show promise for expanded use. Attributes that are advantageous for hunting are also advantageous for military applications. Quiet demeanor, controlled reactions, self-sustenance in sparse environments, resistance to dehydration, athleticism, ease of training, and flexibility in transport methods combine to make the llama a viable option as a pack animal in military/combat operations.
Llamas have been exposed to simulated fire fights, covert night travel, transport of weapons systems, and extended backcountry maneuvers with Special Forces personnel with good results. Limited availability of llamas in areas of operation appears to be the main limitation.