Calls recent Montana report “misleading”.

Carter Niemeyer’s recent book “Wolfer” described, in great detail, the inner workings of Wildlife Services for whom he worked as their Montana western supervisor from 1975-1990 and as their Montana wolf specialist for the following 10 years until he took a post in Idaho as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator. In the book he describes how the incestuous relationship between the livestock industry and Wildlife Services works to maintain hegemony over how predators are blamed for livestock deaths so that they can be managed and killed and so that the taxpayer funds flow freely. He goes on to describe how the reporting of livestock depredations is routinely influenced by the higher ups in the department so that blame could be squarely placed on any number of predators instead of what usually boils down to poor animal husbandry practices.

Often times he was called to the scene of a “wolf depredation” only to find out, upon investigation, that the animal had died from other causes or that dogs had been behind the incident. When he would write up his report he would skin the animal out to look for hemorrhaging caused by the bites of a wolf or other predator, he would take pictures, he would look for tracks. This was frowned upon by his superiors and he was told to use only the small space on the investigation report form to describe whether the livestock had been killed by predators or not.He described situations in which the ranchers would call politicians and newspapers if he didn’t determine that a wolf had killed their livestock by.

There is a lot of pressure on Wildlife Service agents to blame livestock deaths on predators and there is a lot of pressure on them to find excuses to kill predators so that their obscene budgets can be justified. Few of the agents are able to withstand that pressure and those who do are often marginalized as Carter had been. While acting as the Montana wolf specialist he was moved to Missoula, far away from where the wolves were, and made to live inside a camp trailer parked in an obscure warehouse without adequate heat. The agency did things like move his office space to a closet sized room in a federal office building where he had to store his bait in a warehouse next to where a federal judge parked. He also brought carcasses into the warehouse to thaw them so that he could skin them out.

In his book he writes how was the only trapper for ADC who didn’t just do as the rancher wanted and conducted a thorough investigation where he skinned the animal “to its hooves” and took extensive notes which were added to the report.  His superiors reacted by keeping him away from wolf investigations and told him not to write any more than could fit in the small space on the report form.

This week there is an article out about a recent report done by Wildlife Services at the request of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association which claims that the presence of wolves has caused predation of livestock by other predators to increase because it has limited their methods of killing. It also claims that predation by wolves has risen sharply.

Carter strongly questions the validity of the report calling it “misleading”.

Niemeyer said that only probable and confirmed kills should be considered. And even listing a depredation as probable, Niemeyer said, means “it probably was a predator.” When Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks publishes its annual report, it lists only confirmed wolf kills.

“Probable is foggy, but possible is pretty much unknown and reported doesn’t really mean anything,” Niemeyer said. “It’s that confirmed one that’s really the one of interest, the one that counts.”

The report claims that in 2006 there were only 111 calves killed in 2006 by coyotes and that there were 1348 in 2010. Carter questions this too.

“I can’t even imagine that,” Niemeyer said. “My whole career with Wildlife Services it was pretty unusual to see calves killed by coyotes.”

This report appears to be an orchestrated effort to blame wolves for everything in an attempt at influencing the politics so that wolves will be delisted through legislation. It also appears to be an effort to increase the budget of Wildlife Services in Montana so that they can go back to the good old days where they used M-44’s which fire a pellet of cyanide poison into the mouth of any predator that pulls on the baited device.

Questions as Livestock Losses Skyrocket
By Myers Reece – Flathead Beacon.

Tagged with:
About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

70 Responses to Carter Niemeyer strongly questions Wildlife Services report.

  1. Wow…misleading is an understatement. It’s a fair and friendly word “misleading” but I wonder if “lying” is more accurate?

    In any case, thanks for keeping up your reports.

  2. nabeki says:

    Excellent piece Ken. Thanks so much. Looking forward to reading Carter’s book.

  3. jon says:

    Maybe Ralph or Ken can answer this. Was Roy Heberger a good wolf recovery coordinator for Idaho? How did he compare with Carter?

    • Ken Cole says:

      I think Roy did a fine job but his background was more in the fisheries arena. I like Roy.

      Carter had intimate knowledge of wolves since he was in on the ground floor, so to speak, when wolves started showing up in Montana from Canada.

  4. Cody Coyote says:

    Wildlife Services is one of the top ten oxymorons of our times…

  5. Ovis says:

    Cody Coyote,

    The name of the agency was adopted in order to confuse the public about its true nature.

    • Cody Coyote says:

      Wildlife Services…isn’t.

      Animal Damage …was.
      and the “Control” thing was , too.

      • To give credit where credit is due, ADC changed their name as a result of (at least in many people’s minds) the scrutiny brought by Wildlife Damage Review, a now-defunct NGO that was run by a number of wild women, including the late, great Nancy Zierenberg. Those gals gave the government a reason to duck and cover, the spirit and voracity of which hasn’t been seen since on this issue.

  6. JimT says:

    We should send copies to all of the Western Dems on the appropriate committees for mandatory reading; it is a damn shame no one in the Senate will call for a serious examination of this agency and its conduct.

    • Ryan says:


      Who votes for the western dems? I’ll give you a hint, hurting ranchers (percieved or real) and farmers in the west would be political disaster.

      • JimT says:

        If half of the claims in this book, and the one by CBD are true, why in the hell should we continue to sanction bogus claims, and a Federal agency who basically is a thrall to the ranching community. I don’t buy this myth of Western Ranchers as being the only legitimate activity in the West and thus being deified in some circles. They have a political power that is way out of proportion to the benefits they bring by getting to use public lands for almost free, and determine a large part of wildlife policies based on very parochial interests.

  7. Pronghorn says:

    One (of many) of Montana’s ignorant, hate-fueled legislators has already grabbed onto the bogus info and called for an all-out war on predators:

    Montana’s coming legislative session is going to be very, very ugly.

    • jon says:

      Greg Hinkle is a piece of work and he even refers to wolves as vermin.

    • Cody Coyote says:

      At the bottom of the op-ed published by said Montana firebrand anti-wolf legislator from Thompson Falls is his name and contact info . Perhaps a few of the more enlightened readers of this blog would like to catapult a few facts over the wall at him…

      Sen. Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls, represents Montana Senate District 7. He can be reached by e-mail at ghinklesd7@gmail.

      (I’m in Wyoming or I would have already done it. )

      • WM says:


        I am not looking for a skirmish here, but what verifiable facts would you suggest commenters use to challenge what this guys says? He seems to be reading of some published material.

        Also wonder what comparisons or contrasts might be revealed in incrreases or decreases in mixed predator impacts in ID and WY for the same time period. I had heard, unverified of course, that ID has had fewer wolf depredations on livestock after the wolf hunt last year and carried forward in to the spring. Anybody know anything about that?

      • WM says:

        sorry: …what this GUY says? He seems to be reading OFF some published material.

      • Ken Cole says:

        The problem here is that the information is not published and there is no way to verify it. WS won’t voluntarily publish their investigation reports and the agents are discouraged from doing full investigations with good documentation.

        There is no accountability for WS. That’s partly why WWP is suing them in federal court.

      • WM says:

        Since this information appears to be in an email from Steuber to Hinkle as stated in the article, and is public information, one could ask for it from either source. It would be especially appropriate for a 7th District constituent to make the request.

        If you don’t timely get it, what better way than to go after him in a subsequent Missoulian article or editorial.

        If Steuber won’t release it directly to any US taxpayer, but has to Hinkle, what a great way to skewer him as well.

        Sure looks like opportunity abounds here for the ambitious investigator.

      • WM says:


        And I should have added, if WWP asked the right interrogs and requests for production in discovery, as I am sure your competent legal counsel will, you should get everything that goes into whatever published totals are available. If not, then something is amiss., yes?

      • Cody Coyote says:

        WM—I can add to this string that Wildlife Services does not respond to FOIA. Never have that I am aware of. They’ve been asked a lot in Wyoming and given out nothing. Which is illegal for a federal agency to not respond to a legitimate FOIA request. We have to use indirect sourcing and secondhand stuff to keep track. I don’t think they can use ” national security” as an excuse but we sometimes feel we are dealing with CIA Cowboys…

        There is a trust issue.

        In fact, this black hole of information is endemic to a lot of agriculture issues . Ranchers have successfully legislated covertness and even tried to make it a high crime to disparage agriculture ( at least in Wyoming, when the President of the state Senate was one of the state’s largest sheep ranchers , about 10 years ago. A high misdemanor to call ” bullshit” on something? It was at that absurd level. )

        An immediate case in point is an outbreak of brucellosis in my own county. Three herds in the last three months, the last being a domestic bison herd. Wyoming being founded by stockgrowers has it in the bedrock of the state constitution that ranchers have inordinate protections not allowed other sectors. They’ve gotten a ream of laws protecting their livelihood culture that is to my mind untoward. Way beyond anything else not related to the military or security/law enforcement.

        Journalists simply cannot officially get any useable information about the brucellosis outbreak if the State Vet and the Brand Inspector et al don;t want to cough it up. And they don’t. They act bulletproof, and get away with it.

        ( We should recall how much hot water and battery acid was dispatched at US Law Professor Deborah Donahue when she published a factual book about the corruption at the state and federal level with respect to range management and ag policy )

        Wildlife Services needs to be turned inside out.

        I think what’s happening in Montana with this skewed ” data” and fabricated response to vaporware in the accountability department is pretty symptomatic of the Western agriculture rank and file, both public and private entities. Only when the fog occasionally lifts do we get glimpses.

        Having said that , I think Hinkle is out on the plank with this latest ploy .

      • Cody Coyote,

        I did a web search on this Hinkle. He is another far right, pushy “christian” extremist.

        I see he wasn’t born in Montana. So many of these troublemakers like him have moved in, I think folks ought to do a more thorough check to see if he is another outside agitator.

    • william huard says:

      If you read some of the posts many people are questioning these “fairy tale figures ” put out by Steuber the Stooge. I remember emailing Steuber last year questioning WS actions, and without my permission he gave my email address to a KIM Baker, who I found out later is the President of the Montana Cattlemans Assoc. We went back and forth until I was accused of “not knowing what ranchers go through.” excuse. Steuber needs a job, and his job is to kill predators for ranchers. Period.

      • Ryan says:


        Do you know what ranchers go through?

      • JimT says:

        No one forces them to stay in it, Ryan. I grew up in a dairy farm community in New England…I would say they worked much harder than the average beef rancher based on what I knew my friends went through growing up. Some of the smaller farmers and ranchers try to do the right thing by their animals, and the environment and are reasoned in their view they are only part of the landscape. Seems to me that the larger corporate ranches whine the loudest, and expect to be coddled, burped and changed by WS and BLM with no commensurate return effort to mitigate the effects of their industry, or to try to live with predators. They want to live in a zoo, basically, only one that is filled with their pre approved animals only. Just plain self indulgent BS.

      • jon says:

        Ryan, if ranchers don’t like ranching and the expected problems that come with it, quit, find another job.

      • Ryan says:


        Most ranchers I know have been doing it there whole lives, as have their parents, and their parents parents. Its not just an occupation, its a way of life. Of the last three generations to own alot of ranches, this is the first to have to deal with wolves in most cases, so a little bit of understanding would be helpful in dealing with the situation.


        I’ve worked on both ranches and dairy farms for short periods of time.. Why anyone would want to be a dairy farmer is I’ll never know. It has to be one of the shittiest jobs lol.

  8. william huard says:

    No, being a leftist socialist predator loving hippie Ryan… Oh I forgot anti. My apologies. I know ranchers that do take proactive measures to protect their property deserve compensation for legitimate livestock losses. The problem here is that these figures that WS puts out are neither credible nor verifiable. It is easier to blame predators than to take the losses caused by birthing/ calving complications, weather, disease etc. It becomes something to expect when you have a federal agency that kills animals just in case- or possible predation

    • Elk275 says:

      Did you ever think that ranchers who have legitimate livestock loses may not report the lose to the WS. I think that there are many legitmate loses that are never reported, the same as a number of minor crimes are never reported. There are also legitmate loses that are never found.

      Merry Christmas everyone

  9. william huard says:

    Sorry, hit the button too soon. This Carter fellow would be in a position to know whether these numbers are credible or not. Do you think HE knows what ranchers go through Ryan?

    • WM says:


      I am suspicious of anybody writing a biography for profit….ANYBODY. I don’t care who it is, and on which side of an issue, they may tend to be. So should everyone else.

      Too many people hitch their views to people whose views align with their own and believe it as truth. And, do not forget, a polarized and amplified story, especially by one purporting to be an outcast, sells better than one that is usually closer to the mundane truth.

      With that preface, it seems from what I hear on this forum, Neimeyer is a pretty credible guy.

      • JimT says:

        You mean you don’t believe Keith Richards? ;*)

      • WM says:


        Which parts?……Nixon calling this rag-tag group of mere, long-haired English minstrels the most dangerous rock and roll band in America…or…. the Bible Belt cop stop in Fordyce, AR, where Keith and others avoided arrest in their brand new yellow Chevy Impala filled with marijuana, hash, mescaline and other mind-altering substances stuffed in the door panels, and going to the toilet unescorted while trying to flush the rest of the evidence down the plugged toilet, and with spilled pills covering the bathroom floor…….or….., alas, the alleged peculiarities of Mick’s wedding tackle. [Most of this I remember from an NPR book review (or was it an interview with Keith?) a few weeks back].

        Keith (with Mick’s blessing no doubt) is laughing all the way to the bank….or his dealer. Did he really snort his father’s ashes? Wonder what a lie detector would reveal, or if you just pantsed Mick?

        See, the truth is not important….it is all about the aura and the myth

    • Ryan says:

      Alot more than you and I do. Lets see, the american way is to make a small problem a really big problem. I know of ranchers that lose calves to coyotes every spring.. Perhaps the increase in Coyote “predation” is just an increase in reporting in hopes of getting wolf monies.

  10. A Christmas wish: Let’s all send prayers tonight for a swift journey into the next life to the countless suffering and dying sentient beings languishing in extreme pain and trauma right now on the miles-long trap lines described all too well by Carter Niemeyer.

  11. Pronghorn says:

    And then let’s say a prayer that the callous, misguided men and women who set those traps have a life-changing event, an epiphany that allows them to finally see the immorality of what they’ve been doing. We will have to believe in miracles for THAT one.

    • Nancy says:

      Been doing some up keep for an elderly guy (who’s in his early 80’s – health is declining, worked for the Forest Service) for the past couple of years. He’s got a coyote pelt and a proghorn head hanging on his walls but now he can’t “stomach” even watching a documentary where animals might kill or are killed because as he said recently “I’m now that damn close to looking death in the face”

      Why is it the human species always manages to get to the end of our life span BEFORE realizing and doing something, about the negative impact we’ve had over the years on other species?

    • william huard says:

      Speaking of callous, misguided people, I watched with amused skepticism as one Republican strategist after another said merry Christmas and then in the next breath said their top priority in the new year is to repeal the health care bill! I hope it blows up in their faces! Happy new year- we will take your health care folks

  12. Nine Mile Wolf says:

    I recall speaking with Carter in the mid-90s when still in
    MT. He recounted one occasion when, outside Choteau, he was called
    out to a reported wolf depredation. Once there, he measured bite
    marks, paw prints, did the on site necropsy, etc, making his
    determinations. Meanwhile, standing by, the rancher and neighbors,
    rifles clutched in hands feverishly awaited the verdict -ready to
    go wolf hunting. When it was determined to be dogs -not wolves,
    Carter asked why the rancher’s dogs were not out on the farm as
    usual. The rancher said they were “off somewhere.” When Carter
    asked to go find the dogs, and bet the rancher they were in the
    barn to measure their paws and bite, Carter was asked to leave….
    The rancher later called Carter’s boss (Jim Hoover) and complained
    Carter didn’t know how to do his job. “Wolf lover” they called him.
    Several stories that are in line with this, where Carter did his
    job exceedingly well, and had no drive to simply kill everything
    and blame wolves for every depredation. Can’t wait to read the
    book. Thanks for writing it Carter

    • Phil says:

      Interesting! Hasn’t there been doubts in a lot of livestock predation that were blamed on Wolves by ranchers?

      • Save bears says:

        Not taking sides, but many biologists I know and have worked with in the past, estimate that only 1 out of 7 actual cases of livestock being killed is confirmed to be by wolves, depending on which side you sway to, either wolves are killing more than is confirmed or less than is being claimed..

      • JB says:

        Save bears:

        That figure gets used because it is in a published estimate somewhere. I have been looking for that paper, but haven’t been able to track it down. I’d appreciate the citation if anyone has it?

        I am extremely skeptical of the reliability of these estimates, as they are affected by a host of factors–primarily the 7-1 estimate results from producers’ inability to find the cattle that have died, which in turn should be affected by allotment size, typography, number of cattle, presence of people, etc.

      • WM says:


        I have seen the indirect reference of 7:1 as well. You might try this resource:

        Montag, J.M., M.E. Patterson, and B.M. Sutton. 2003. Political and social viability of predator compensation programs in the West. Final Project Report. University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 140pp.

      • JimT says:

        Wasn’t there a requirement in the reimbursement funds that it had to be PROVED (forensics, lab, etc) to be a wolf kill, not just feeding, to get the money? How do these figures compare with the ones given here?

      • WM says:


        Another reference to suspected vs. confirmed cattle kills, which confirms calves are hardest hit:

        Oakleaf, C. Mack, and D. L. Murray. 2003. Effects of wolves on livestock calf survival and movements in central Idaho. Journal of Wildlife Management 67(2): 299-306, as quoted in the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Project ( ), see discussion Section 3 and specifically Exhibit 3-4 Table (page 3-10). Oakleaf seems to conclude a ratio of up to 8:1 for calf survival in very specific harsh densely vegetated terrain, and as low as 2:1 on open terrain and for all cattle livestock.

        In any event, there is generally agreement the range is 2:1 to 8:1 with an AVERAGE of somewhere around 5.6:1 for cattle. Maybe there are more current studies which confirm or adjust these numbers.

        Another resource people might want to examine is this September 2010 article from the cattle folks themseves – explaining the difficulty of proving up losses (2 pages – read both). Before you get all self-righteous (jon I put this in for you), read and put yourself in place of a rancher trying to make a living and managing this loss control issue that affects the bottom line.

      • WM says:

        Sorry: ++8:1 ratio for calves allegedly killed by wolves as compared to found++

      • JB and WM,

        I think Oakleaf, et al. is the primary source of this figure. The important thing about it is that was on a difficult grazing allotment where kills are inherently hard to find.

        On fenced private pasture land the ratio of detected to undetected wolf kills has got to be close to 100% — 1:1, not even 2:1.

        Every grazing situation is different, and I think the 8:1 is close to the extreme. Anyone who uses it as a rule of thumb is guilty of a large overestimate.

    • william huard says:

      Interesting information. I remember when Dick Randall left Wildlife Services and spoke for years on behalf of the HSUS. He said for years that he thought that killing predators was the right thing to do- until he took a picture of the bobcat that died in front of him and his son said’ Why are you doing this daddy”

    • JimT says:

      IF there are ever hearings on WS, I would LOVE to see him testify…but then, maybe he might have to go into WPP…

    • JimT says:

      Guessing the dogs were SSS’d…

      • Nine Mile Wolf says:

        No, the rancher had known all along who dunnit. But if you’ve got an animal(s) down, and dog tracks all around, what better way to fuel the fire. In Augusta years ago, Carter gave another great example where a rancher called complained of two wolves in his pasture chasing his stock during the evening prior, and that morning. To chase off the “wolves” the rancher and a friend jumped in their pickup, speed through the pasture, guns blazing only to get stuck in 3 feet of mud. Insisting Carter set snares all around the property, and giddy with the prospect of a shoot on site special permit, the rancher and gathering crowd were dismayed after Carter walked down through the pasture to inspect the paw prints, which belonged, surprise…to the neighbooring ranchers dogs, which is where the tracks eventually led. Again, he was labelled a “Wolf Lover.”

      • JimT says:

        We had some problems with roaming dogs in Vermont; no excuse for that or for harm coming to someone’s livestock because of someone’s laziness in training and caring for their dogs and believing “free range dogs” are perfectly ok. We had to let a female Lab go into her first heat to resolve a persistent health problem and a neighbor who believed his dogs had the right to roam paid for TWO screen door replacement because his intact dog was busy trying to get at my female. I don’t blame the dog, I blame the humans…

  13. william huard says:

    Save bears you’re doing it again.

    • Save bears says:

      What the hell am I doing William? I am simply passing the information on that has been passed to me, I am not a predator hunter, never have been, never will be…I have condemned the coyote hunting contests..So Please Elaborate, what am I doing again?

      • Phil says:

        Speaking of the Coyote contests, are they still going to have the “predator derby” this year in Idaho? I hope not!

      • Save bears says:

        Phil as far as I have heard, they again will have the derby again this year..

      • jon says:

        Phil, the “sportsmen” that participate in these coyote killing contests that offer prizes and money for killing the most coyotes are subhuman.

  14. Phil says:

    Save Bears: “1 out of 7 actual cases of livestock being killed is confirmed to be by wolves,” or do you mean that 1 out of every 7 cases that were blamed on Wolves was confirmed to be done by Wolves? Because I have heard of the second one and not the one you mentioned. The 1% of livestock being killed by Wolves would increase to about 14% by your token.

    • Save bears says:

      I am simply passing along what has been stated to me! I am not taking sides on this one…Just because I make a statement that is contrary to what you and others believe, does not mean I am anti wolf…

      • Phil says:

        Save Bears: Never stated you were anti-wolf. I just thought you made a mistake in what you said and wanted you to clarify it if you actually did make the mistake, but apparently you don’t think you did.

      • Salle says:

        Kind of like making an unfavorable comment about capitalism…?

      • Save bears says:


        See JB post, I did not make a mistake, this is information that has been told to me, I am not claiming it is right or wrong, but it has been published as well, but like JB, I don’t have a link to the study or the paper.

  15. Salle says:

    With that preface, it seems from what I hear on this forum, Neimeyer is a pretty credible guy.

    On this topic, having known Carter for quite a while, I’d have to say he’s probably the most credible guy. I think that I should add that this book wasn’t written for the profit, it was written because Carter wanted people to know the truth… Self published and distributed doesn’t get you much of a profit.

    • Nancy says:

      You could compare Neimeyer’s book to some of the excellent, informative documentaries out there like The Cove, Earthlings & Food Inc. Their aim was to bring attention to what is happening to animals and to our food sources. Its too bad The Cove could not have been in the running for Best Picture!

  16. I dont comment too often but, I Just finished Neimeyer’s book and I found it a very good read and well written. It was very helpful to get a different perspective then I had ever heard or read on not just the wolf issues themselves but also the players on the wolf scene too. While Neimeyer’s perspective and my own are not quite the same it is nice to hear from the front lines from a source of information who is willing to compromise and listen to everyone, something certainly missing these days. Neimeyer was impressive in his ability to get everyone to try and work together, I wish it happened more often. It is always helpful to walk, or read what someone elses shoes are like, particularly if you don’t always agree with them.

    As he said in the book “Having too many wolves isn’t the problem, nor is having too few. Its not about the parts its the whole. We have to start at what we have in common or nothing can ever get better.”

    While I lean toward the more protective view when it comes to wolves I do tire of the constant bickering on this site and many others if people don’t agree exactly. its gets us nowhere and the fact that fingerpointing, crowing over the pitfalls of antiwolf people, and and bullying seems to be the new way that this blog posts its story’s and its comments makes me wish it was more neutral and informative as it once was. I appreciate the information I gain here it is important to my work but cant we all try to respect each other a little more?

    I probably would have missed the book were it not posted here, I am glad I read it and encourage those with an open mind to read about another perspective, even if it does not match your own.

    Warm Regards.

  17. Chris Mortensen says:

    I just finished reading “Wolfer”. Very good read, and very objective. Kudos to Niemeyer for being so honest and thorough. Wish more folks could find some sort of middle ground and try to work together.

    • Connie says:

      I’m about halfway through “Wolfer” and realize it will take a second read, because, frankly, getting past the shock of the magnitude of casual killing in Montana by ADC/WS will take a concentrated effort.


December 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey