Feral dogs attack livestock in southern Idaho

“Feral dog attacks in southern Idaho have killed or injured about 100 sheep, goats and chickens this month. . . ” Associated Press.

So far this year the 700 Idaho wolves have killed about 150 sheep. I don’t know the total for feral dogs in the whole state. This story is about one month in southern Idaho.

Rest of the story. Feral dogs attack livestock in southern Idaho. AP. Idaho Statesman.





  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    From the Billings Gazette, published on Sunday, April 15, 2007:

    (Regarding the state of Montana) “Statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which are less precise than those produced by state wolf officials, estimate that 200 sheep were killed by wolves last year. By comparison, coyotes killed more than 10,000 sheep, eagles killed 1,100, foxes killed 700 and dogs got 600, according to the statistics.”

    According to modern math and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Montana, in 2006, domestic dogs killed approximately three times as many sheep as wolves did.

    If I’m not mistaken, DOMESTIC DOGS kill more sheep AND cattle, year after year, than wolves do in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. I’ll try to find the numbers and report back.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks Mark. There’s an awful lot of politics involved in reporting wolf numbers, and wolf “depredations.” It seems a dead lamb from a wolf is a lot different than a dead lamb from any other cause, but we need to get the best figures out there for those who think dead livestock are all . . . well, just dead.

  3. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Actually, Ralph, it’s Mack, not Mark. But no big deal.

    Your statement “…those who think dead livestock are all . . . well, just dead” makes me smile.

    It seems to me that as far a livestock producer is concerned, the best livestock IS dead livestock which has brought him/her income. After all, the purpose of that lamb or cow is to end up on someone’s plate. Why should a livestock producer care who or what eats the animal as long as they’re paid? Humans eat livestock, they pay. Wolves eat livestock on public land, AMERICA’S public lands, livestock producers shouldn’t get paid (my opinion). Wolves eat livestock on private land, livestock producers get paid – public and/or private funds.

    DOGS eat (kill) livestock and livestock producers get paid? Wait a minute. We’ve have to set up a reimbursement fund – public and/or private. Those livestock producers… always looking for a handout. Perhaps their neighbors should control their dogs – might be cheaper.

    As far as I’m concerned, you put your private livestock on public land, you carry 100% of the risk AND the burden of your livestock being killed by any form of wildlife, be it coyote, grizzly, black, wolf, eagle or whatever. Can’t afford or don’t want to take the risk? Keep ’em at home. What? Can’t raise enough hay on your land to carry your animals through the winter because they’re on your land eating grass you own? Well, seems economics comes into play. Might have to scale back your operation. 😉

  4. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    I said “Perhaps their neighbors should control their dogs – might be cheaper.”

    Once I had some neighbors who had horses and chickens on a property not too far from where they lived. Something was killing their chickens. This went on for quite some time when they finally decided to do a look-out in the night time. Turns out their DOG was killing the chickens. They would feed horses and chickens during the day, with their dog accompanying them, and their dog would return at night to kill.

    “You can lead a dog to livestock, but you can’t make it kill. But it might, of it’s own volition.”

  5. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    as a tracker I have found that when I get calls for a dead pet or farm animal the owner always thinks it is a wild animal and a incredible event . . usually the neighbor’s dog are the only tracks I find. Once a black bear was killed for taking a goat and when I looked into it I found the tracks of the dogs belonging to the man who shot the bear. . the bear’s tracks which I also followed for two miles never came near the goats.
    The cougar I went out to track turned out to be a great dane who had been missing from home for a few nights. . tracking works, but not too many people are trained enough to see tracks unless they are in clear substrate like mud, snow or sand. Those of us who can track get tired of people blaming sensible wild animals for non-sensible violence.

  6. sal Avatar

    All this resufacing of the welfare ranching concept, which I guestimate to be true, makes me glad that in my need for more animal protein, due to life at high elevation, I consume no beef or industrially raised livestock per se, and have access to the freezers of friends who hunt deer and elk.

    I even feel better about the quality of the elk and deer meat thanks to the natural maintainance of wild game by way of wolves.

    That dogs run wild, join packs, and harm livestock gives rise to the concept that someone might argue, “Well, MY dog wouldn’t do THAT.” Just like inattentive parents say of their children whom they often neglect.

    Trying to get people in America to change their practices and attitudes is a lot like trying to make gold from dross, it might be possible but getting it to happen may take all your lifetime, personal will, and energy to achieve.

  7. be Avatar

    this is an incredibly important story and the numbers shine a lot of light on the issue – from my perspective.

    it seems to me that all of the money and energy used to kill wolves and packs loses legitimacy when feral dogs and other animals inflict substantially more losses upon livestock. their target isn’t unique.

    but the wolf remains the target – the icon of disdain… why?

    if it’s a visceral response ~ how are two opposing sides to sit down at a table and work out a solution by responding to eachothers’ interests in good-faith?

    the deck is stacked ~ and in these situations, we see those willing to cede more and more and more ground by applying rational/interest-based concessions that rarely satiate the non-interest based irrational need to be in control of a part of the natural world.

    perhaps its not the dogs, or the eagles, or the coyotes, or the foxes, or the wolves, or the bears, or the wolf-advocates, or the federal government’s problem anymore. perhaps the problem is something else.

  8. sal Avatar


    As Curt Mack, Carter Neimeyer, Ed Bangs, even commsissioners in Montana will openly admit, “…this is a social problem.” No ifs, ands or anything else.

    What they are saying, and have been for years now… it’s not a biological question, it’s a social mythology issue. Many of these beliefs are hold-overs from the European myths that came here with the settlers. they think that some animals are evil and some are benevolent based on these myths.

    People believe what they want to believe.

    You can lead a mind to knowledge but you can’t make it think.

  9. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Linda, I admire your skills. I have a buddy that can spot, while walking, the faintest tracks – tracks I have to stop and stoop to see. I hope you do a little “education” when necessary.

    Sal, you are so very fortunate to have generous friends. I hope to kill a big, fat cow elk this season. This is entirely off-topic – sorry – but I do not understand why buffalo meat is so expensive. I eat ground buffalo almost every week. But it’s my understanding that USDA is warehousing thousands of pounds of frozen ground buffalo – occasionally releasing some to schools in poor school districts in the mountainous west.

    be, you raise a very good point – “…we see those willing to cede more and more and more ground by applying rational/interest-based concessions that rarely satiate the non-interest based irrational need to be in control of a part of the natural world.” You’ve described it precisely: “The irrational need to be in control of the natural world.”

    What native cultures around the world tolerate or have tolerated livestock losses to natural predators, understanding that these natural losses are part of “the cost of doing business” so to speak?

    We have “won the west.” The war’s over. We’re victorious. We’ve killed many of the natives, raped their women, stolen their land and killed off most of the natural predators. We’ve cut the forests and mined the land. And we’ve done much of that in order to raise our golden calves.

    It’s time to back off and let Mother Earth heal.

  10. be Avatar

    it’s just so frustrating watching managers make management decisions which are responsive to that social mythology to kill wolves — but refuse to consider it with regard to being an ongoing threat to wolve’s recovery when it comes to delisting – 10(j) de facto/hedged bet delisting, etc.

    when they cede to livestock producers by aggressively culling packs – almost militantly – they fail to demonstrate that the concerns are myths as such – and in such a militant response, they reinforce the myths.

    also, by being more responsive to visceral social reactionism than they are to the science and biology – managers demonstrate that if you want your perspective represented — you’d better have the bigger rhetorically charged stick –> stoking the social reactionism on both fronts and further alienating the application of biology…

    think about it – if one were to judge by the management occuring now which “paradigm” were correct ~ those who favor science/biology/ecology, or those who favor mythology ~ who’s paradigm would you say is being reinforced? they know it’s mythology — and then they stoke it !

    Bangs uses the language of science to justify socially charged culling. whack-a-mole(wolf) management is not sustainable – nor in the public interest. i wonder whether his perspective will change as a new administration is ushered in.

  11. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    If officials “manipulated” the facts in the business world, they would go to jail.
    “Cooking the books”, fraud, etc.

    I just can’t see the situation improving with our wolves and bison any time soon. Basically the wolves and bison are being “managed” under fraudulent terms/information. Twisting the facts/just plain lying has become acceptable, the norm. I am so absolutely disgusted with it all and very discouraged. It seems that nothing makes a difference and history just keeps repeating itself.

  12. sal Avatar

    Ed has an oath to uphold, I think that he may have other feelings on a personal level. He’s a fed, at the present time, it may not be a comfortable position for him but he still has to do the job as mandated by superiors, like Dink Kempthorn who probably hates him. I know Dink doesn’t have any genuine positive regard for me and others who have been in the wolf recovery realm and actually speak out and have been effective in making our points heard.

    Being trained for fedral work, I understand that when you take an oath of office, you can go to jail if you fail your duties according to your superiors…

    So cut Ed just a millimeter of slack on that one, I think he may not be too happy with his position, though that’s merely speculation on my part you understand.

  13. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    be, I assume you’ve read Todd Wilkinson’s “Science Under Siege”? If you haven’t, perhaps you shouldn’t, because it will really make you mad, I promise.

    Wildlife managers report to managers that report to managers that report to managers until finally the buck slows and H. Dale Hall, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne or Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns become ultimately responsible (for policy and department actions). But these heads of departments are appointees by the worst environmental Precident in history (mispelled on purpose). And if these federal biologists and managers don’t follow the company line, they’re in a world of hurt.

    How many ranchers in the mountainous west have ever picked up the phone to raise hell with their federal senators/representatives to convince them to raise hell with federal biologists and managers all the way from the top down to regionals in their state or area where their local issue is…

    I maintain that the issues that plague us in the mountainous west will be won in ONLY two places: the voting booth and the courthouse. And heavy on the courthouse.

    Now, about those feral dogs…

  14. elkhunter Avatar

    We have feral cats like crazy where I live, also we have raccoons EVERYWHERE!! Ralph are raccons native to UT or were they illegally introduced. I spoke with a F&G officer and he said one of the main reasons for pheasant population decline, besides loss of habitat, was raccons skunks and feral cats. Just curious about the raccon status, are they native?

  15. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Nationwide, in 2000, dogs were responsible for 23.8% of all predation on cattle.
    Nationwide, in 2005, dogs were responsible for 12.9% of all predation on cattle.
    Source: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Idaho/Publications/Special_Reports/index.asp

    Dated, but interesting: Nationwide, in 1999, dogs killed 26,000 cattle and calves worth $9.5 million.
    Source: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/pubs/fsheet_faq_notice/fs_wsm44.html


    Idaho sheep and lamb loss for 2005: dogs killed 500; wolves killed 500
    Idaho sheep and lamb loss for 2006: dogs killed 600; wolves killed 600
    Source: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Idaho/Publications/Special_Reports/index.asp


    Montana sheep and lamb loss for 2006: dogs killed 600; wolves killed 200
    The largest non-predatory cause of losses was weather conditions at 9,200 head.
    Source: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Montana/Publications/Press_Releases_Livestock/sh&lmlos.htm

    In Montana, from 1984 through 2006, the highest number of sheep and lamb killed by dogs was in 1991 for a total of 3,500.
    Source: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Montana/Publications/livestock/sh&llos3.htm


    Wyoming cattle and calf loss for 2005: dogs killed 100 head; wolves killed 700 head
    All losses of cattle and calves: weather – 8,700, 20.2%; resiratory problems – 8,400 head, 19.5%; calving problems – 8,100 head, 18.8%; other causes – 7,600 head, 17.8%; digestive problems – 6,200 head, 14.4%; ALL PREDATORS – 4,000 head, 9.3%
    (Editorial note: it can be seen that “digestive problems” cause more deaths than ALL predators combined)
    Source: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wyoming/Publications/Livestock,_Dairy,_Poultry/Cattle_loss/index.asp

  16. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    elk hunter,
    raccoons spread from east to west and coyotes spread from west to east as the wolves were exterminated.

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Thanks for looking up and posting that great data on feral dogs versus wolves!

  18. Jim Avatar


    This may seem crazy, but has anyone in UT every proposed a hunting season on feral cats? If feral cats are a problem and they are not a native species, or naturally colonizing one like the racoons, why not hunt them? and hunt them until they are all gone? That is one hunting program I could support.

  19. Jerry Avatar

    Mack and all…
    Another stat to add: Data is from USDA NASS (2006) Cattle Death Losses.
    In 2005, 104,500,000 cattle were produced in the U.S. Mammalian carnivores killed 190,000, or 0.18% of the total production.
    Wolves were responsible for 2%.
    Domestic dogs 12%
    Vultures 5%
    Cougar, bobcat, lynx 8%
    Bear 1%
    Coyotes 51%
    Unknown and other 21%

  20. elkhunter Avatar

    I wish they would, I shoot them whenever I see them. I doubt people would be very happy to know we are out hunting little cats. But when I hunt pheasants and quail I see them everywhere. I shoot them and racoons whenever I see them, my dog almost caught a racoon once and I am glad he didnt! I heard they will rip a dog apart.

  21. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Jerry, thanks for the info. But someone clear me up. Can this be true:

    In 2005, nationwide (U.S.A.), dogs killed 6 times as many cattle as wolves?

    Amazing. Someone sound the alarm. American ranchers need to be alerted to a danger 6 times as great as wolves to their golden calves.

    Hey, how about that E. coli in ground beef? Hey, how about that mad cow disease in the United Kingdom? Hey, how about that brucellosis, which can be passed to humans. How, hey about that bovine tuberculosis, which can be passed to humans ( http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/pubs/fsheet_faq_notice/fs_ahtb.html )?

    For a moment, let’s put aside the notion that wolves are a horrific threat to privately owned cattle grazing on AMERICA’S public lands. Let us examine the danger of CATTLE to HUMANS.

    It would be interesting to discover how many humans are killed by causes that can be traced to cattle. Anyone have any good sources?

  22. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    wait, am i reading this wrong or does it say that wolves killed 700 head of cattle in Wyoming in 2005? if so, that is completely inaccurate. maybe i am reading it wrong? can you clarify please? thanks!

  23. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Sally, yes, it is my understanding that wolves killed 700 head in Wyoming, in 2005 ( http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wyoming/Publications/Livestock,_Dairy,_Poultry/Cattle_loss/index.asp ). If that is incorrect, please offer a correction/source. Thanks…!

  24. Jeff Avatar

    The USFWS site reports 123 cattle lost in 2006 and 28 so far in 2007. I have to believe the 700 head is inaccurate as it is way off all numbers ever cited by the USFWS since wolf recovery began.

  25. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The USDA regularly overestimates predation on livestock.

    They take official figures and multiply them by some figure they come up with.

    I can’t think of any justification for this. Obviously every last wolf-killed cow or sheep isn’t found. There are carcasses found were the cause can’t be determined.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if other predators are not subject to the same protocol. Thus, dogs, coyotes, cougars and bears might all be getting counted multiple times for one carcass.

  26. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Jerry can vultures kill cattle?? Are they taking new born calves? Or just caught on the carcass with no sign of any other animal that no one can see?

  27. Jerry Avatar

    Linda…..from what I understand, both vultures and ravens peck the eyes out of newborn calves…after that, I can only imagine.
    Eagles are also an indirect cause of calf mortality, in that they agitate the adults into trampling the calves in an effort to protect them.

  28. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    my source would have been USFWS data as well, so it has been corrected. Ralph mentions USDA overestimating, so that must be what it is. thanks.


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.

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