State wildlife agencies wait to take over wolves. 2007 also saw record number of wolves killed in the region. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff.

The record number of wolves killed did seem to reduce reduce, or was at least associated, with fewer losses of livestock in Wyoming. Sheep are more likely to be killed than cattle. Of course they are smaller are worth less. Stories rarely mention that a high percentage of the dead cattle are calves, and usually late winter, spring and early summer calves — small or smallish.

I need to calculate the rates, but my perception is that in Idaho the livestock losses per wolf are consistently lower than in Wyoming and Montana, probably due to the larger cow-free backcountry.

Except for an occasional large sheep kill, I must admit my perception is that wolf losses are trivial and the perception of high losses is an opinion artifact created by the livestock industry and politicians. They can tell me 75 cows is a lot of cows, but then I know they were mostly calves and Western Montana is a huge place, but if you report each lost calf and a tearful livestock operator (at least while the video is recording) . . . “how I loved that little gal. Now she’s hamburger (Ooops, I mean she was viciously hamstrung),” it will have the desired effect.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

2 Responses to State wildlife agencies wait to take over wolves. 2007 also saw record number of wolves killed in the region

  1. avatar dee says:

    If those 75 cows were distributed over 75 owners I might agree with you. Typically a small percentage of packs is responsible for repeated depredations on a handful of owners. To those ownere it is most definately not trivial! You said there is a large back country with no livestock in Idaho, what is wrong with concentrating the wolves in those areas and allowing ranchers to minimize their losses?

  2. avatar Heard Enough says:

    Dee,

    Montana’s report has a section showing that the majority (something like 64%) of ranches suffering wolf depredation have only a single incident. For cattle this would typically mean only a single animal, so for the most part (with the exception of sheep), it is almost 1 per ranch. No doubt some ranches are hit harder than others.

    Lots of people seem to think that Montana has a more enlightened view of wolves, but the statistics show that they lethally remove far more wolves than ID (as a percent of their wolf population). Maybe this level of control is justified.

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