Agents, landowners killing more wolves
Yes, they are killing more wolves after livestock attacks. This will not reduce the wolf population unless, other things being unchanged, the mortality rate reaches 30 to 40% a year.
A more significant question is “does this do any good and is it cost-effective?” Does it make economic sense to call out the Wildlife Services “air force” and spend $20,000 killing a wolf or wolves that did $1000 damage?
Another questions is, are these revenge shootings or efforts to solve a problem?
One of the most significant parts of the article below, by Mike Stark of the Billings Gazette, is this
“A University of Calgary study published earlier this year said killing problem wolves is only a temporary solution to livestock attacks. Once the offender is removed, another eventually moves in to take its place.
“Wolves are being killed as a corrective, punitive measure – not a preventative one,” Marco Musiani, one of the study’s authors, said earlier this year.
A better approach, he said, is to look at when and where depredations occur and take steps like changing grazing patterns and using guard dogs, fencing, wolf repellants and other measures”
Stark also wrote:
“Coyotes kill 28 times more sheep and lambs than wolves, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Foxes, dogs, bears and even eagles also rank higher, and that’s not to mention weather, diseases and lambing complications.”
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
9 Responses to Agents, landowners killing more wolves
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This will be the biggest challenge in Management.. But Guard Dogs?? Has this guy ever seen what wolves do to them, regardless of the breed? Fences don’t help unless you’re running a small operation, So I’d like to see more studying in the “OTHER MEASURES” department and see what we can come up with..
Guard dogs are very effective, but you have to deploy a sufficient number. Two guard dogs won’t hold off a wolf pack, but 4 or 5 probably will. Guard dogs also deter coyotes, bears, and cougars, which in total kill far more livestock than wolves.
The issue of “revenge” shooting is an important point. It’s one thing for people to dislike the effects (or perceived effects) of wolves, but quite a few ascribe the type of moral turpitude to them that society usually reserves for murderers and child molestors. I think there may be quite a bit of “revenge” killing, as well as alot of killing performed primarily as a symbol that humans are “top dog”. There remains a deeply held cultural psychology that any wild critter that isn’t being actively managed and/or controlled 24-7 is an imminent danger poised to overrun humanity and civilization. I am NOT saying that wild animals, including wolves, should never be managed or controlled…sometimes such measures are indeed necessary to protect human safety and property. But management should be based on solving and preventing problems, and all too often, I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction; furthermore, while states do of course need management plans for wildlife, those plans do not necessarily require this type of constant micro-management. Sometimes wolves may need to be killed, but not for revenge, not to symbolize civilization’s dominance over wilderness (is there really any doubt?), and not as an ineffective gesture to show that “we’re doing something”. All too often, I think wildlife control and management is conducted for the sake of “control and management”.
When wildlife agencies do need to destroy wolves, it is important to remember that they are removing a destructive animal, not exacting justice on an evil criminal. Historically, and in some cases to this day, animals that are deemed “bad” have been/are killed in exceedingly cruel manners that would not be tolerated with other species like deer (and yes, some people deify wolves and don’t think anyone should be allowed to kill any wolf for any reason, but this is not mainstream thought within the conservation community, and on the ground in the real world, that view is extraordinarily unlikely to be taken up by state wildlife agencies).
It’s also interesting to note that species that have historically been deemed “good animals”, desirable species, etc., are very rarely controlled this way, regardless of the ecological and economic damage they may cause. In the East, white-tailed deer really are multiplying out of control, endanger or suppress other wildlife species, and cause millions of dollars worth of damage… yet exponentially more money is spent on the never-ending, ineffective, and usually unjustified War on Predators than in solving the dilemma of, in some places, 50+ deer per square mile!
So every week we read about another depredation and another wolf “control”. The numbers I recalled for this year are about one wolf for each cow.
We have been at this for 10+ years. Has anyone mapped the depredations and wolf take? Someone must’ve done that, so I guess the question is if that obvious information is being used in prevention. Even a casual observer can see that the Upper Green is a wolf death trap.
Aren’t we smarter than this eye-for-an-eye strategy? Can’t we be just a little bit smarter than the wolves and, based on their history of depredation, put some preventive measures in place?
I know this all based on reason, and reason has little to do with what is going on here — still, it is all I got.
I’d say over ten years things have gone backwards. While Defenders of Wildlife and the Wolf Recovery Foundation and others try to be proactive, the state agencies and USFWS in Wyoming seem to be under the impression that killing wolves doesn’t matter because the shooting doesn’t threaten the recovered wolf population.
However, the perspective that says we can have fewer dead livestock and fewer dead wolves is a better outcome. This is indeed possible, although Wildlife Services would have less “work” to do. They might see it differently.
As far as the Upper Green River goes, that is the number one black hole for wolves in the Northern Rockies, and I expect that at least one conservation organization is not going to play “consensus games” with these livestock folks. Ralph
I remember years ago reading the info Ralph provided on his wildlife report regarding the USDA’s findings on sheep and lamb deprivation, the percentages taken by which predators and being amazed by the numbers and where wolves stood in the “lineup”. Why is it still not getting through to people that they are not the all encompassing evil predator that steals all their sheep and lamb?
It seems to me that the primary strategy we should adopt is “less intensive management for wildlife and more intensive management for livestock.” The problem is that the livestock industry has done all it could do to shift the costs of livestock management to the public, while reaping the benefits of livestock production to itself–including control of land use and wildlife management policy and agencies. This is truly a strategic problem that would be easy to understand were too many so-called conservation groups not addicted to the “capitulation by collaboration and consensus-building” strategy that has essentially given the livestock industry another free ride at the trough-feeding fair.
I agree with your points about the reality of livestock shifting its externalities onto the public and the environment, including wildlife, which are then managed not to offend livestock interests.
Regarding “consensus,” a true consensus means that everyone who cares about something has come into agreement. Short of that, a so-called “consensus” is a false consensus, the result of social and/or political manipulation.
Negotiations, however, can be productive. In a negotiaton both sides have something they can give each other. What is traded is clearly identified and the process is transparent, at least to those involved.
You need to negotiate from strength, and the conservation side has disarmed itself when they agree at the outset to strive for consensus because the other side has no interest in anything but the status quo. Livestock interests have to want to get out of the status quo, and one of the best times to negotiative is after a successful lawsuit and the threat of more of them.
Conservation groups should be negotiating where that is possible, not participating in “consensus” groups.
I have to agree with you, Ralph. I have been participating in a regional consensus group, trying to hammer out a BLM resource management plan. The main players were ranchers, energy developers, local government and conservationists. The outcome was utter failure. No one would get off their posistion. The positive? thing was the BLM got three years of a variety of community perspectives.
Should anyone suggest consensus-building in the future, I will point to Northwest Colorado Stewardship (NWCOS) and ask if he/she remembers the pain that we went through for three years? Consensus building just does not work, when you get ranchers, energy interests and conservationst at the same table.
Here are some ignorant comments on wolves an dhow they kill for pleasure. people are so ignorant
Thank you, Jim. Someone sent this to me a couple days ago. Actually, I’m impressed by the number of people who commented who were NOT sucked into the “I hate wolves position” the photo was intended to evoke.
There is a real problem in that a lot of people can’t stomach nature in the raw. Even some wolf supporters seem to think wolves eat mostly mice. They don’t. They mostly kill large animals. Just like the cattle we eat, these large animals don’t want to die. The public would benefit from a trip to your average “meat packing” plant.