Feds Count Livestock Losses Differently in the Northern Rockies

Moscow, ID – Today, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians call into question how two different federal agencies count livestock losses attributed to wolves in the States of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  The livestock death losses figures are reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) show a remarkable magnitude of disparity from the ones reported by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

The FWS uses professional, field-verified reports from field agents, while NASS uses unverified reports from the livestock industry.

“Not only is the accounting between the agencies wildly varied,” said Gary Macfarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater, “but the differences between the three Northern Rockies’ states show a remarkable distinction, with Idaho producers telling the best ‘fish-tale’ whoppers.”

In Idaho:

  • Cattle:  The FWS verified 75 dead cattle, while NASS reported 2,561 unverified cattle losses, which represents a 3,415% difference, and discrepancy of 2,486 head.
  • Sheep:  The FWS verified 148 sheep losses, compared to NASS’s unverified 1,900 losses, which represents a 1,284% difference and a discrepancy of 1,752 head.

In Montana:

  • Cattle: The FWS verified 87 losses, while NASS reported 1,293 sheep losses, which represents 1,486% difference and a discrepancy of 1,206 head.
  • Sheep:  The FWS verified 64 losses, while NASS reported 600 sheep losses, which represents a 938% difference and a discrepancy of 536 head.

In Wyoming:

  • Cattle: The FWS verified 26 losses, while NASS reported 585 cattle losses, which represents a 2,250% difference and a discrepancy of 559 head.
  • Sheep: The FWS verified 33 losses, while NASS reported 300 losses, which represents a 909% difference and a discrepancy of 267 head.

“The livestock producers of the Northern Rockies have long wooden Pinocchio noses,” stated Wendy Keefover, Director of WildEarth Guardians’ Carnivores Protection Program, “the gross exaggerations involving wolf and livestock interactions are simply mythic and have little connection with reality.”

She added, “The real killers of cattle and sheep are illness, birthing problems, weather, and disease – but not native carnivores such as wolves.”

According to NASS, the total cattle (2010) and sheep (2009) inventory in the United States equals 99,628,200.  Of that number, 467,100 sheep and cattle, or 0.5% of the inventory, were killed by native carnivores such as coyotes, but also by domestic dogs.  Far more died from other non-wildlife causes.

While NASS’s livestock loss numbers lack credibility, even the agency’s inflated numbers show that the Northern Rockies wolves account for about 2% of alleged livestock losses.

“The predation myth represents a big fat lie imposed on the American public. It exists so that the cattle and sheep industrialists can justify their savage, paramilitary war on wildlife,” stated Keefover. “Worse, they even have Congress in their back pocket.”

On June 16th, the House overwhelmingly voted (287 to 132) against the Campbell-DeFazio Amendment that would have cut funds for the federal government’s predator control program, a special interest boondoggle for agribusiness, by $11 million.  207 Republicans and 80 Democrats voted against this taxpayer-savings measure.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Wildlife Services” program spends over $100 million each year exterminating the public’s wildlife purportedly to “benefit” agribusiness — even when livestock predation is less than one percent.

“The Wildlife Services program is a special interest subsidy that actually benefits few, if any, against the wildlife conservation interests of the majority, and to the detriment of wildlife,” stated Keefover.

Macfarlane concluded, “Wolves provide the essential thread in the fabric of life.  Studies from Yellowstone have shown how vegetation and the numbers of other species have rebounded since wolves came back. The West would be a much less enticing place if the howl of wolves were to again disappear from our shared home.”

# # #

View the NASS’s Livestock Losses Here

View the FWS’s Livestock Losses Numbers Here

View the 6/16/11 Campbell-DeFazio Congressional Amendment to Limit Lethal Predator Control

See the Role Call for the Campbell-DeFazio Amendment

View Groups Allied Against the Cost-Saving, Campbell-DeFazio Amendment


  1. truthbetold Avatar

    A recent study out of the University of Alberta found that Depredation on livestock by wolves is much greater than previously thought.


    I believe Mech said only one in six can be confirmed while he testified in court. What is the non – confirmed depredation according to guys like William Huard, Phil, Immer Jon Cleever & Dewey! Adrian Wydeven wolf loving WI biologist says it’s another .25 of the confirmed number here in Wisconsin where it is easier to keep track of livestock. The first to say less than one for one is uniformed of how cattle are raised out west, out of touch & spent too much time getting inoculated on sites like this!

    I know Adrian is having a little bit of a tough time with is .25 for practically every “posting board” in restaurants etc in northern Wisconsin is filled with missing dogs!

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Curious TBT – have you read Neimeyer’s book Wolfer yet?

    2. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      You spent one too many days on the farm. Smelling all that foul cow waste has obviously seeped into your already limited brain activity

  2. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Since he invoked my name, just an aside here…has ‘Reality 22’ changed his handle to ‘truthbetold’ these days to cover his….tracks ?

    I personally will go a lot further towards accepting US Fisha dn Wildlife Service’s confirmed predation numbers long before I accept the USDA’s data, if for no other reason than USFWS has no reason to report anything other than what’s on the ground, and USDA has every reason to report otherwise.

    Point being, the discrepancy of several orders of magnitude difference cannot be explained by anything other than a purposeful skewing. Even is USFWS numbers were off by half, how do we even begin to reconcile those with USDA/WS being 10x-20x-30x dissimilar?

    Not much truth to be told here by one or the other…

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Remember the livestock industry complained the usfws didn’t immediately bend over and take everything the ranchers wanted, so they got their bought and paid for politicians to switch predatory management back to the USDA. They have to justify the lethal control with just a little hedging- actually quite alot of hedging. I couldn’t find the exact section in Predatory Bureaucracy that examined the timeline

      1. ma'iingan Avatar

        I believe those “verified” wolf depredations, while they are reported by USFWS, are actually verified by WS field agents. USFWS and WS have an agreement authorizing WS to provide substantiation of suspected wolf depredation. At least that’s how it works here in the WGL region. As far as I know the NASS numbers are just reports from various state ag agencies, unsubstantiated by WS.

  3. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    I guess it’s a good gig if you can get it. I don’t know if this is still how it works, but in Wyoming for Missing calves a compensation factor of 3.5 was used for grizzly kills. Example, if it was proved that you lost 10 calves to grizzlies, you were compensated for 35.

    I understand it might be tough to find some of these dead calves/cattle, but gosh,’should one not have a general idea where their stock is? Many times when I go out looking for signs of wolves, I look for raven activity. They are all over fresh kill sights!

    It is an archaic way of doing business when you work in a way that one has little idea where their product is, and then you get compensated 3.5 x for everyone confirmed prey upon.

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Brian Ertz